As I stood on the mall in the rain, I heard three words echo across the open expanse. It was the drawn out call of “you….deserve….hell”. A brief silence, and then it came again “you…deserve…hell”.
My heart sank. No.
Quickly, the various students united in protest formed a circle around Brother Jed and his small band of followers. In this circle there was yelling and screaming and crying. In this circle there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. At first I felt empty as my faith, my God was being dragged through the mud. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I longed desperately for God to make his presence, his love, known in this place.
Then one of the students entered the middle of the circle and he began turning to each person, individually addressing them with open arms saying “I love and respect you”.
My spirit lifted. Yes.
A light had broken through this circle and it was reflected in the compassion in his voice and the glimmer of comfort reflected in the eyes of the students he addressed. He even expressed love to brother Jed.
In the 42nd Psalm comes the cry “where is your God” . While earlier I felt at a loss, I now knew that here was the true spirit of my God before me. The spirit that is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love for all. The voice that transcends hate with open arms saying “I love and respect you” just as you are.
At Holden evening prayer that night we talked about holding on to God’s promises. We recited the words:
“The light shines in the darkness. And the darkness has not overcome it”.
To me. those two lines reflect God’s promise for all of us. That when we find ourselves in places of darkness, among weeping and gnashing of teeth, the light will always shine. In the moments of fear and anger and sorrow, God is with us, revealing himself in unexpected ways. The voice of hate and darkness will come to pass, but the light and love of the Lord, the spirit that calls out to each and every one of us with open arms saying “I love and respect you”, that will endure forever.