Sometimes, the enormity of the human condition is overwhelming to me. It just hurts my spirit. Stays inside me. Affects me.
This weekend, the Westboro Baptist Church will be picketing at three churches in my tiny little town. I was browsing through Facebook on my lunch hour and I came across a story published by the Gardner News about this horrible organization’s plans to come to our little town and spew their message of hatred. Why they chose us, no one knows. We aren’t burying a soldier this weekend. There have been no high-profile crimes or deaths in our area (in, like, ages), and none of us can figure out why they have chosen these three particular churches in our peaceful community. All day long, the sadness and enormity of this has weighed heavily inside me. I made the immediate decision to react with love, and to encourage the same in those I care for here in Gardner. These people simply thrive on any attention given to them, and they relish in any negativity shown to them or any efforts made by the well-intentioned to change their hearts and their souls. Heartbroken for the leaders and parishoners at the churches targeted for picketing, I called two of them today and spoke with members of their staff. I offered my love and support and prayers to them as a sister in Christ, and I told them that they were cared for here in our community. One woman asked me how she would explain all of this to her children, and I told her to treat this as a teachable moment. To use this opportunity to clearly explain the difference between love and hate. I thought that the very best way that we could respond to their presence was to continue on with our lives as if they were not here. Show them no consideration. Give their voices no room within our spirits. Refuse their efforts to engage us in dialogue or hateful discourse. Walk with dignity and show them by example the way God wants us to treat one another. As the day wore on, I had another thought. Each and every Gardner resident should take a few hours Sunday to give back. To volunteer. To do something kind for someone in need. To combat hatred with love and to bring peace and goodness to others. Please consider talking with your family tonight and tomorrow and making a quick plan to show kindness to others on Sunday. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Sure, if you have the time and are able to schedule a session, go ahead and volunteer at the charitable organization of your choice. Write letters and make cards for our men and women fighting for our freedom and the freedom of others halfway across the world. Rally a few friends together and buy canned goods to donate to a local food pantry. Just a few hours of your time can make a tremendous difference. Your love and your good works triumph over any hatred shown by others. As I’ve said many times, there’s nothing in this world greater than love. Nothing.
I shared my sadness about this situation with a colleague today, and he said something so incredible to me. “They live in darkness. You be the light.” Be the light, my friends. We cannot do anything to impede this hateful organization’s right to picket and to say the horrible and heartbreaking things that they say. We can, however, give of ourselves to others and lead with love.