James 3:14-18 If you are jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. . . Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. [The word can also mean justice.]
I’ve been on a steep learning curve about the history of the United States. I don’t know whether my ignorance is due to spending much of my life outside this country, or whether I just haven’t been paying attention. I grew up in a small Maya-Ixil village where mistreatment of the first Guatemalans by those who came later was commonplace. But I had the romantic (I suppose) idea that in the U.S. everyone was equal. That’s what we learned in school about the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
With amazing support from my brother-in-law, I just spent a week learning about the Oregon Trail in Idaho and Oregon for a historical novel I’m writing. The more I learned, the more grieved and disappointed I became about how people treated one another in the nineteenth century. Have you heard the term “Manifest Destiny”? Its advocates used fine phrases—including the name of God—to justify deplorable acts of oppression and violence against people who were “in the way” of U.S. expansion. And against people who could be used to facilitate that expansion, at whatever cost to them. Wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
My week in Idaho and Oregon ended with an evening out to see the movie “Harriet.” What a powerful experience. I was surprised (sorry—I’m learning how incredibly naïve I have been) to learn that it’s only been 106 years since Harriet Tubman died. My grandparents were alive then! That fact brings Harriet’s story so close to home for me, like I can reach out and touch her.
Holy God, what does all this mean for me, today? Show me, please. Purify my heart. I walk around enjoying my home, my husband, my family and friends, while inside I am grieving and uncertain about what you are saying to me about how my life needs to change. Teach me your wisdom, Lord.
P.S. AFTER posting this blog, I listened to a sermon by Bishop Jim Hobby. I recommend it: https://www.pitanglican.org/sermons/bishop-hobby-eucharist-sermon-gathering-2019-video-audio?utm_source=Master+Diocesan+List+%2F+Weekly+Newsletters&utm_campaign=e0bae7fad6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_08_18_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_16cfed5f45-e0bae7fad6-711085821&mc_cid=e0bae7fad6&mc_eid=3f1a602d68