Dear Friends,

At evening meal last week, our granddaughter, Hazel, asked the question, “What are you grateful for, Grandpa?” After I had answered her query, she proceeded to ask the question around the table, first to Sandy, then of each of her parents.

This is the question we often ask at mealtimes with grandchildren as a way of reflecting on the day, or the week. Even two-and-a-half year olds quickly enter into the spirit of the question. It wasn’t difficult to answer. Why should it ever be? We’d had a very special week.

Our daughter and her husband had carefully self-quarantined for two weeks; Sandy and I had been especially cautious, too. So, we came together for the first time since the end of January for a week of vacation together on Spofford Lake.

You’ll understand if my response to Hazel reflected having time together in close proximity without having to rely on Facetime or Zoom or some other digital means. Hazel and I spent much of our time “fishing” off the dock. Hazel caught a number of little fish. Her dad caught “the big one”! Time with people we love is such a gift; more precious in these days of COVID-19. Time for reflection on matters of gratitude is, itself, its own gift.

I’m grateful for this brief time with family. Such a gift! I’m grateful for long walks (at an appropriate distance) with my niece, Alexis. For time in the garden. For reading and reflection.

And, while I, with you, mourn slavery and European colonialism’s living legacy of a racism that “others” people of color, I’m grateful for the surge of support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death – from people who look like most of us in Vermont – that is, “White Folk” like me.
I’m grateful that such a large swath of our compatriots are rising up to declare that racism is an ugly blot on the American enterprise. I’m grateful that we are rising up to declare that there will be no more lynchings!

I’m grateful that people of faith who have often been silent are rising up to declare that racism is simply antithetical to the Good News of Jesus Christ; that, in fact, racism gets in the way of any kind of authentic relationship with Christ.

I’m grateful to join with others who are reading more deeply into the “white problem” that is racism; learning more about the history of White oppression of people of color, lamenting the harm done to African Americans and other people of color by the practice of racism. I’m grateful for those who are listening more attentively to the voices and pain of African Americans, deciding to journey alongside people of color to express our shared desire for racial healing, equity and peace with justice.

I’m grateful for all those who are seeking greater understanding about the realities and dangers of what it means to be White, reflecting on our own privilege, seeking ways to influence change to eradicate racism.

I’m grateful, because in such conversations are opportunities for the gospel to come alive, to change lives, to nurture hope and embrace and celebrate diversity.

I’m grateful, because we have a work of hope to do.

May God grant us the grace to love one another as Christ loves us; vision to dream of a day when everyone is valued, honored and celebrated as equally created in the perfect and beautiful image of God. May the Holy One give us courage to be bold in such a love.

In the peace of the Risen Christ,