I want you to see my America.
She isn’t all pretty and nice and put together.
No. She’s like us…messy, imperfect, despairing, grateful, joyful, angry, broken and real.
Sometimes she’s mean and sometimes she’s loving.
America is us. She is all of us.
Today I had the privilege of speaking to a group of folks at a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-age gathering.
In other words…a gathering of Americans.
They all are part of Mecklenburg Ministries.
I shared with them the backstory to Red Boot…my frustration with Washington, DC…my trip across America listening to us share our yearnings to be seen, heard and loved.
When I was all done, we had a few minutes left for questions. A few had already come and gone…when She stood up.
Here’s a picture of us.
She is blonde…beautiful ringlets tucked beneath a head band…and a smile…yes that smile lights up her words as they pass from soul to air.
“I have moved here from New Jersey. I am a journalist.”
She shares, through a rich and silky accent, that she is originally from Turkey.
“People were friendly…when I first arrived…meals together…a curiosity about my story, where I’m from…until I shared that I am Muslim.”
“You don’t look Muslim,” some have said to her.
Over time, she has noticed that folks aren’t as friendly…they don’t invite her for play dates with kids anymore.
“Molly, what’s your advice or recommendation on how I deal with this? They don’t even stand with me at the bus stop. I am left out.”
The room is still.
The seconds pass.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“I don’t know. Because I can’t fully know what it’s like.”
I thought for a second or two…trying to put myself in her shoes. I think I might’ve said something like, “I am trying to relate by thinking about a time I felt left out too.”
But then I realized that would’ve made it about me and in that moment it was about Her. This holy space…this sacred silence.
“I think we need to share a meal…break bread together.”
“Yes,” she said.
As I was leaving, she came up to me…we took this picture and made our plans.
“I want to help with The Red Boot Coalition,” she shares.
I sit now in the Dallas airport and think about my next-door neighbors. They are Muslim. I have kindly waved as they drive by…but I haven’t done much more than that. I think next week is as good a time as any…to go knock on their door and see if they might like to join me for tea.