Lent – a season that invites us to be introspective and discerning – in order to seek ways to grow in our faith.
During my personal observation of Lent this year, I am deliberately seeking to read scriptures in the Bible (Old and New Testament) and the Quran. Setting aside 20 minutes – previously dedicated to other areas of my life such as checking email, stretching before a walk, unloading the dishwasher while simultaneously preparing a family meal – to lean in, listen and learn. I’m creating new space within each 24 hours.
Romans 13: 20-21 – quoted in The Message, I read “Our scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”
Romans is found in the New Testament of the Bible. I would love to know if the Torah and the Quran have similar messages within their text.
If you can direct me to one of those, will you kindly share it with me? I would appreciate knowing…and instead of searching for it myself, in the quiet of my home, I would love to engage with someone in order to make it a conversation – about the differences and similarities of your text with mine.
If you find yourself identifying as Atheist or of no specific faith, do you still find yourself saying “Yes!” to this Romans text? I hope you do! Because people are people and we can unite in our shared humanity – regardless of what we believe spiritually. I am hopeful there is an underlying human perspective.
We are all connected.
If we saw an explosion or a car wreck on the road near us, wouldn’t we stop to help? Maybe this is too grand of an example. How about this: If we see a mother who does not look like us…perhaps she is another color and wears clothes much different than our own…if her sign reads, ”I have two babies to feed- please help” – do we stop for her? Does our heart leap and lurch – giving us an indication that if we don’t stop for this particular woman in need, the least we should do is determine how we can help the homeless in our community?
Now, these two examples don’t necessarily point to any evil. They are more about being dismissive than downright mean. But evil certainly exists. Evil can be construed as the bully who won’t stop teasing or pushing your child around at school. Evil is those people who abuse women and girls simply for being women and girls. Evil is the person holding the gun under the table while 12 members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church pray over one another and for members of their community. Most likely, they prayed for the guest, holding the gun.
Evil is the shooter who took the lives of my father, son and Terri LaManno for his own personal reasons. He thought they were Jewish. He hated.
There is a hierarchy to evil. The evil that is homelessness, the evil that is a highway accident taking the lives of many in a matter of seconds. Then there is a deeper level of evil – those situations when one human purposely invokes harm on another.
From the night of April 13, after losing my father and son only hours prior, I knew that good had to arise from this gut-wrenching nightmare. And believe it or not, good things have occurred in thousands of ways!
However, I have learned that this nightmare I experienced didn’t appear out of nowhere. This evil nightmare lurks in our lives, our communities, our schools and likely our places of worship and our workplaces. We have a responsibility to be aware of the marginalized, those we see as less than, coworkers filled with anger and hate, students abused at home and bullying at school…we must take notice of those who are lonely, desperate for belonging. We can invite them into relationship and begin to love them unconditionally. It just might be the first time they’ve ever felt respected, liked, loved.
As the Faith Always Wins Foundation hosts our 5th annual SevenDays® Make a Ripple, Change the World, I could not shout this any louder…join us to make a ripple! Pay attention to those in your world – and to those not in your world – the passersby who seeks to have eye contact, verifying their existence.
We will take you to a Hindu Temple & Cultural Center, two Christian churches and the National World War I Museum and Memorial. We will engage you in activities that lend themselves to taking care of you, so when the time comes, you will have the strength to buy that lunch for your enemy. We will learn how a lonely 14-year-old boy and a frightened 15-year-old girl found themselves in a white power hate group, filled with anger and then, most importantly, how they got out and are now on a mission to help others do the same.
Registrations are open for all events.
Join us. You are the ripple that will change the world!
We will learn, engage, love one another, discover the other and find our way onward – together.