Grace and Peace to you …
This past week we witnessed more conflict on some of our campuses. This time students exchanged blows and police needed to separate white students from black students. The violent scenes were distressing.
My niece is in her first year at TUKS and she expressed her sense of anxiety and despair on our family WhatsApp group. My brother responded with what I thought was wise advice. This is what he wrote:
Tough and confusing times Jess. My advice for what it’s worth:
- Learn as much as you can about all sides before making your own mind up.
- Distinguish between principles and actions — believing in one doesn’t mean condoning the other.
- Know that you are living a segment of a problem which precedes you and will live on long after you leave TUKS.
- Be grateful that you are young enough to ride the change and old enough to learn from it.
- Front seats on history can be a terrifying privilege but that’s what it is. At your age your father and Uncle were given a gun and sent north. Your other Uncle faced 6 years in jail. Your Pops was nearly assassinated. Your Granny lived everyday with fear for her family and boss. South Africa forces you to grow up fast. Seems too fast but it’s also what makes us stronger.
- In between it all make new friends, embrace new experiences and see it all as important.
Notice that he did not dive in and give a “piece of his mind” about who was right and who was wrong. Instead he invited her to be fully present to the moment and to open herself to learn and grow from what was unfolding before her. Without denying the tough and troubling nature of the situation there is the comforting and hopeful belief that it is a privilege to be part of this moment.
I think these words are good advice for all of us at this time and not just my niece. But furthermore I believe that here we are given a healthy example of how we can assist people around us to grow by giving them a framework in which to process their own experience instead of simply telling them what to believe. This is education at its best and none of us are too young or old to promote and participate in such methods of learning.
St. Peter and the Angel
Delivered out of raw continual pain,
smell of darkness, groans of those others
to whom he was chained –
unchained, and led
past the sleepers,
door after door silently opening – out!
And along a long street’s
Majestic emptiness under the moon:
one hand on the angel’s shoulder, one
feeling the air before him,
eyes open but fixed …
And not till he saw the angel had left him,
Alone and free to resume
the ecstatic, dangerous, wearisome roads of
what he had still to do,
not till then did he recognize
this was no dream. More frightening
than arrest, than being chained to his warders:
he could hear his own footsteps suddenly.
Had the angel’s feet
made any sound? He could not recall.
No one had missed him, no one was in pursuit.
He himself must be
the key, now, to the next door,
the next terrors of freedom and joy.
~ Denise Levertov