There’s a beautifully crafted, wooden peace pipe hanging above my father’s desk. Dad was an engineer for an oil company, and he worked with a lot of Native Americans on the oil field. It’s extremely unheard of, for a Native American to gift a peace pipe to a white man, but one fellow employee respected Dad so much that he was moved to give him to it, as a show of brotherly love.
During a visit to my mom’s last week, I stared at that peace pipe, in a time when racial tension runs hot across the whole country.
I admire that Native Americans have a physical image of peace, something they can hand to another person. Imagine if we could be men and women, in this peaking moment of national conflict, who carry a peace pipe in hand, striving for harmony and ready to express tangible brotherly love to people who are different than we are.
So here I am, this white woman tucked up in a very white corner of northern Montana, with a burning in my heart to enter into the building of racial peace. I have to tell you that I’ve looked at the Lord a number of times, since the killing of George Floyd and the eruption of chaos in American cities, and I have said, “Lord, I am so naïve about all of this and so white and living in a mostly white city. And why, may I ask, have you burdened me with this problem?”
I mean, I was in high school before I even met a black person in real life, and I remember thinking, “Wow. A black person!” I sat close to her and leaned in, totally star struck. Wouldn’t you agree that I’m an unlikely choice, to talk about racial reconciliation? (Actually, my cousin is black, except I’ve never thought of him as black. He’s just my cousin, and I’m pretty sure that says something good about my heart and something bad about my knowledge base.)
But passion it is. I have cried over the last few weeks. I have lost sleep. My heart has been stirred by God, to love the black community, so my praying is going like this, “Okay, Lord. What in the world do you want me to do that is meaningful in this time in history? How may I serve the black community? How can I be an instrument of peace?” All the while I have this dreadful feeling that I am going to make a mountain of mistakes as I step forward. But I’m used to that -obeying God and messing up along the way but obeying anyway. And somehow, the Lord always works and makes good come out of my feeble attempts to follow him.
The writer of Hebrews gives this simple command:
Pursue peace with all men. (Hebrews 12:14a NASB)
So I’m pursuing peace, granted a whole lot late to the game, but I’m stepping in. A woman I respect, Katie Westenberg, says it’s worth it to risk saying or doing something stupid, to move in towards people’s pain.
I have made a decision to move forward daily, in pursuit of racial peace in our country and especially among my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I’m going to be journaling about it here. I don’t know where the Lord is taking me, so it’s scary to start talking about something when I don’t know where I’m going. But I like going forward.
Maybe forward is all God is asking of us.