Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I always love remembering Dr. King and the beautiful work he and so many others did and are doing on behalf of equality and justice.
I’m a dreamer. A hopeful realist. A “we can do it” kind of person.
I believe in MLK’s dream, and oh, I’ve written about dreams over all these years in so many different ways. Dreams Re-dux, Dreaming and Making What Could Be, Be, We Have a Dream, This Dream is so Possible, Dreamers, Lovers, and Status-Quo Rockers, and really, Down We Go, is all about dreams for community and the reality that “dreams are much prettier when they are just dreams.” Put in”dreams” in the search bar for too many posts too count.
Like so many others in the USA especially, I am entering 2017 with much dread. A lot of our dreams are turning into nightmares at the moment as we see the possibility of much of the progress we’ve made be systematically dismantled by the powers-that-be. We’re up against a formidable foe–unhealthy power–and it’s not going to give it away easily.
It never has.
That’s nothing new.
The battles we’re fighting are the same ones that have been fought for generations upon generations, and oh, Martin Luther King knew this battle well.
But something is different now than even 40 years ago.
The tide is turning.
Many who were on the sidelines are now in the game.
People are waking up.
People are taking their faith out of the pews and into the street.
People are realizing how interconnected we are and how our freedom depends on each other.
People are advocating in all kinds of wonderful ways.
People are rising up, refusing to accept the status quo any longer.
People are tired of just dreaming and are more committed than ever to make them a reality.
Really, so many of these “dreams” shouldn’t be dreams, especially in the body of Christ which is supposed to be the most equal, free-est, wildest, most-power-diffused, most-not-playing-by-the-world’s-rules group on earth. Alas, we all know that is most often not the case. Our structures, our methods, our practices, our theologies, our ways-of-showing-up-in-the-world are definitely not reflective of that. Often, the most resistance to any equality movement comes from Christian folks and some days it makes me want to scream.
But here’s also where I have so much hope:
I think so many people are tired of letting that be how we are looked upon in the world.
I think so many people are done with talking about Jesus and want to embody Jesus in a longing-for-dreams-to-become-reality world.
I think so many people are done with going to church but want to be the church.
I think so many people are done arguing and defending and trying to worry about who’s right and who’s wrong and just want to do something to help bring love and mercy and justice and compassion into the brokenness.
I think so many people know that Christ has no body here but ours.
I think so many people get that unless we build bigger tables and partner with our friends from other faiths and local government, we won’t be able to create justice in our cities, our neighborhoods, the world.
I think so many people want to be part of cultivating the Kingdom of God here and now in all kinds of creative ways.
I think so many people want to be part of making dreams a reality.
But the part we need to remember–and I keep reminding myself–is this:
Dream making is a brutal, bumpy road.
The resistance is great.
The reality of not seeing the fruit of our efforts exhausting.
The magnitude of the potential losses staggering.
The wall of what we’re up against beyond just daunting.
We will lose friends.
We will lose pride.
We will lose position.
We will lose sleep.
We will lose protection.
We will lose money.
We will lose ego.
We will lose power.
We will lose comfort.
And because we’re human beings, when we start to lose, we have a natural defense mechanism to pull back, to quiet down, to turn it off, to find ways to get back to what’s comfortable.
We accept what’s unacceptable as “normal.”
We retreat to our groups with people who look like us, think like us, believe like us.
We begin to tell ourselves the lie that other people know how to contribute to change better than us and “leave it to the professionals.”
We close off our hearts to God’s stirring because it’s kind of annoying.
We get busy doing other “more pressing” things.
We think what we do won’t make a difference anyway.
Oh, this isn’t a time to turn back.
It’s not the time to just dream.
It’s not the time to wait for someone else to do it for us.
It’s time for us to travel the next leg of this brutal, bumpy road together to make some of these dreams for a more just, more merciful, more integrated, more healthy, more equal, more diverse, more beautiful world become reality.
Let’s strap in together.
That’s my dream for 2017.