Repair, Reconciliation, Restoration
By Amy Knorr
Each year, my maple tree burns achingly bright in the backyard. A few weeks ago, that maple shone in the grey drizzle of the morning after. I needed that bright light in the midst of grey. That morning, I woke up knowing I had to wake my children to a world that seemed harder and rougher, angrier and less gracious that the day before. The disbelief in their faces was heartbreaking, but the important conversation we had was deepening, and the hope we took with us as we left the house was heartening. All three things—the disbelief, the conversation, the hope—have their very foundation in the conclusion we came to that morning: I have not changed overnight. God has not changed overnight. And I will stand up, shout out, and be a part of the repair, reconciliation, restoration that He will work, that He is working, in our world.
I have not changed overnight. God has not changed overnight. And I will stand up, shout out, and be a part of the repair, reconciliation, restoration that He will work, that He is working, in our world.
I think part of that standing up is not wavering on the wrongness of racism, hate, and the misuse and abuse of people and power. And part of that standing up is shouting out in the quietest and gentlest of ways that I might not be part of the fervor but that I might be a part of the wave of peace that draws people to the feet of the Peacemaker.
A few days ago, my children were playing with the usual neighborhood bunch. There is rarely ever a conflict among these kids, which is remarkable in and of itself. But that day, as I sat chatting with a neighbor on my back deck, I began to hear raised voices. We sat and listened a bit to try to get a sense of the problem. But things began to escalate, and I moved to help if possible. There they were. Five kids facing off in the front yard. The sixth, my youngest daughter (the one who has vowed to get her "suit and her sword and fight" whatever war may be threatening her sister) was sitting on the neighbor's porch observing. Her little voice came sweetly over the angry voices of the five.
"Guys, wait! I have an idea!"
It was not immediate, but within a couple minutes, all five kids had come to her. They were listening. In the end, it was not her idea that was adopted, but it was her voice that sparked the listening and conversation, the repair and reconciliation, the restoration. And you know what? As she tripped off to play, I could see it in her face. She was satisfied. Peace had been made.
That image of her sits in a special place in my heart. There she was, sitting alone, watching. But she was not removed or passive. She used her voice—gentle but strong—to call her friends out of the standoff to neutral ground. She used her voice to create space for listening. She used her voice to provoke thoughtful conversation. She used her voice to be a part of unified compromise. She used her voice to bring peace.
It reminds me of the the words I read aloud last night from an unlikely textbook on light and life—Marguerite Henry's beautiful book, Stormy, Misty's Foal:
"So it is when the lights of this old world are snuffed out, and the storms of life would destroy us, the steady light of God's love still shines."
His steady light shone through my sweet, brave, beautiful little girl that day the neighbor kids faced off. And in this stormy world, today so seemingly poised for destruction, I'm with her.
I know I will still feel the heaviness of conversations on and offline for many days. Maybe you've been having those heavy conversations, too? Maybe you've been asking questions and listening intently like I have? Today, I am choosing to enter in again, to have those conversations, to listen and to ask.
I'm remembering and reading fresh the promise of no more tears or sorrow, the promise of later . In the words of Canon David Short, "He will guide them to springs of living water and will wipe away every tear from their eyes…nothing good will be held back from you or from me. It's not about one drink…not the extinguishing of our desires but that they grow bigger and stronger and deeper. Removing every cause of despair and replacing it with his tender goodness." May the truth of this be reflected in my life in the here and the now.
Amy Knorr is an educator and freelance writer living in Pennsylvania Amish country. She has a passion for speaking and facilitating community learning. She is married to a scientist who makes her laugh, and has two little girls who make her laugh harder. She blogs at One Step to Blue, where this article first appeared.