A Blessing for What Is

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P_Kelley

Fear Not, says every angel and many a prophet. Into our terrain of terror, general or specific, the salvation oracle begins with this imperative.

Love, you command. Love your self, your neighbor even your enemy. You leave no escape from the demand, no way out from the risk love requires.

And so it is that we live between Fear Not and Enemy Love. It’s a precarious place. The landscape is dark and the enemies real. Principalities and powers don’t easily relent.

* * *

What is evident? Fear is winning; love waning.

Refugee families scare us. Black men (and boys) scare us. Strong women scare us. Muslims scare us. Gay couples scare us. Universal healthcare—or lack of it—scares us. Government control and economic collapse scare us. Genocide, terrorism and rumors of war scare us.

What is evident? Love is winning; fear is waning.

Billionaires give money toward public health, education and equity. Women rescue baby girls in India from infanticide. Families befriend refugees from Burma, Somalia, Bhutan and become neighbors. A former president works to eradicate the guinea worm that plagued so many for generations while others contain Ebola and HIV/AIDS across Africa. Church ladies still bring casseroles, fathers still laugh at their children’s silly jokes and mothers continue to show up for late night feedings and early morning wake-ups. Israeli and Palestinian mothers make jam together, sharing pain and creating a new future flavored with love for their children. Young black men and women stand for justice.

* * *

I will bless what is by not capitulating to the fever pitch of fear. Not acquiescing to ancient hatreds. Not succumbing to stereotypes about others.

I will bless what is by resisting the urge for revenge, refusing to hurl violent words at others or wield other weapons.

I will bless what is by melting hostilities and shaping fresh vistas of hospitality.

I will bless what is by joining in works of restoration and rescue for women and girls around the world.

I will bless what is by practicing lavish generosity against habitual hoarding.

I will bless what is by constructing longer tables and even longer guest lists, inviting people I know the least so I can hear their stories and shed my own ignorance, my own scales, my own hardness of heart.

I will bless what is by planting seeds of lament—and watching for sprouts of hope blossoms.

I will bless what is by celebrating goodness wherever I see it.

I will bless what is by fearing less and loving more, choosing to remain tender-hearted in the space between Fear Not and Enemy Love.

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Kelley Nikondeha
Kelley is co-director and chief storyteller for Communities of Hope, a community development enterprise in Burundi. She is also the author of Adopted: The Sacrament of Belonging in a Fractured World (Eerdmans).
Kelley Nikondeha
Kelley Nikondeha

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