Present

I’ve been thinking about clothes recently.  This will surprise a lot of people because I don’t usually.  One of my favorite quotes is from Henry David Thoreau who once wrote, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”  Thoreau was also the source of the quote by my picture in my yearbook – “I sometimes try my acquaintances by such tests as this; – who could wear a patch, or two extra seams only, over the knee?”  My niece just posted a picture of me with my son and her father and brother from like 15 years ago and I was wearing the same jacket I just had re-stitched at the dry cleaners.

Clothes are not usually a big deal to me, but they’ve been on my mind recently.

I’ve been thinking about clothes my wife and I buy for our grandchildren.  I’ve been thinking about tops I might buy for my daughters.  And my wife just told me that I should NOT buy her clothes this Christmas just because I think she’d look good in them (pretty clear hint on that one).

The reason I’ve been thinking about clothes, actually over the last couple of months this fall, is because I realized I have never bought my family clothes so that they wouldn’t be killed.

Do you think about that?  Do you look at something on the rack and think through whether or not that would cause someone to kill the person wearing it?  Do you live with that level of inherent fear?  I don’t.  I never have.

Not once have I spent a second considering whether this color, style, look would incite violence or encourage someone to take the life of my child or grandchild if they were wearing it.  I am now.  I’ve been thinking seriously about it for weeks.

That’s been the outcome of my considering the stories of black lives being taken that are penetrating our news in a horrifyingly consistent manner this fall.  Imagine (and obviously, some of you don’t have to imagine) that because your child is wearing a certain color or a hood or a particular hat they may be gunned down.

Right now, there’s no escaping the invitation.  And the thing we (the greater majority) are being invited into is not anger, regardless of how angry the people protesting and cursing and shouting may appear.  We’re being invited into fear, a very appropriate sentiment for a season that celebrates the One with greatest power who invested themselves in coming alongside us in our fears.

The next time you handle those new clothes in a store cause yourself to consider whether this would get the one you love or even yourself killed just because you are wearing it.  Enter fear as you watch the news and think, should anyone have to live that way?

Blessings,
Geoff

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2 responses to “Present

  1. Geoff.

    Beautiful.

    Marlie

  2. I think that what was most revealing to me in this issue of living in fear because of who you are, was when Nick Peterson, a young black Presbyterian pastor who grew up near Ferguson, wrote about his recent trip home. He mentioned that it was the first time he could remember NOT being pulled over by local police. So yes, people do live in fear, and we have no idea what that’s like.

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