Editor’s note: In case you are one who feels inclined to judge all of Christianity as Dove Outreach Ministries in Gainesville has judged all of Islam, meet my dear friend Lea and her spectacular friend Claire. Lea and Claire are participating tomorrow in what our summer dinner speaker Stephen Kiernan calls Authentic Patriotism. Authentic Patriotism often happens without a lot of fanfare, certainly without network news coverage, but make no mistake that it is there. I cannot imagine a better way to mark the 9th anniversary of the devastating events of September 11th and the higher angels of Americans in response. And as whatever happens in Gainesville tomorrow happens in Gainesville, think Lea and Claire. I will be. (Find Lea’s fabulous blog online HERE.)
oh yes, one floridianâ€™s plans for september 11th have gotten a lot of press coverage lately. and i am not going to add to that insanity by linking to any of it.
because in my never humble opinion, the problem with that â€œchristianâ€™sâ€ plans for september the 11th is that it is way too easy.
because he plans to burn.
burning is easy. isnâ€™t it? light a match. put it next to something flammable and VOILA, fire. really, we have been doing it for thousands of years. even the youngest boy scouts learn how to set a fire. then they learn what the results of that fire are… because something winds up in ashes. and if the wind catches it just right, lots more things than you ever intended wind up in ashes.
so what will i, also a â€œchristianâ€, be doing tomorrow? something harder than burning. i will be building. the same kindling that burns is also used to build. the same Bible that he reads tells me to use my faith to build.
so i will be doing the buddy walk for the down syndrome association of tallahassee. and i will link to that event.
you see our friends and neighbors, the tomans, have a daughter, claire (pictured above), with down syndrome. and claire rides to school with us everyday. she loves me in a way that far surpasses the way anyone other than Jesus has ever loved me. she thinks i am a rock star because i sing a song to her every morning with the day of the week in it. it isnâ€™t a really clever song and i donâ€™t sing it that well but she cheers for it so loudly that at times i feel like justin beiber must feel.
so tomorrow morning we walk in the buddy walk to build relationships with our neighbors. we walk to build a bridge of understanding, of community, of education, of support for those who know and love people with down syndrome. i walk because i want tomorrow to be a day of hope. a day when the sound of laughter is louder than the sound of burning timbers.
why build? it is harder. it requires getting up early on a saturday. of getting sweaty through working and walking and talking. it takes WAY more time than burning. and WAY more energy. and the results… well, not as quick as burning. not as certain.
how do i know?
well, i have burned way too many things in my life. i have taken the easy route and just burned things up with my words, my actions, my revenge, my selfishness, my need to be RIGHT and HEARD and do it MY WAY. i have seen the collateral damage. i have felt the flames and they have even turned and burned me and scarred me even when i thought i was doing something to make someone else hurt and feel the pain. i have smelled the smoke in my hair and in my clothes. i have singed my nostrils and burned off my eyebrows. i have been downright pyromaniacal. and it was easy. fast. certain. resolute.
oh yes, i know how to burn.
so on september 11th, i will choose to build. in such a small small way that i wonder if anyone will ever see any results from it. but i choose the joy of hard work. the joy of walking hand in hand with friends, family, and strangers. the building of one brick at a time. one log. one board. one nail. one window. one door.
do i write all this because i think i am â€œbetterâ€ than that other floridian. nope. just worried for him. worried that this might singe his eyebrows off before it is all said and done. worried because i know that pyromania is addictive and fire spreads.
perhaps i am a bit wiser. i have been shown a â€œbetter wayâ€. by someone who liked to build. because He is a Carpenter. you should see what he can do with two boards and some nails (yeah, that one might have been over the top). but He might just be able to tell us a thing or two about how to build…