AM Psalm 146, 147
PM Psalm 111, 112, 113
1 Corinthians 4:9-16
“Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us!”
Have you ever noticed that the most annoying voices in the room are the ones that are absolutely right, and we have no argument to what they are saying, but we’re just sick and tired of hearing it?
The Canaanite woman knows exactly what needs to happen for her world to be made right again–her daughter needs healing. I suspect the disciples knew that too. But as many of us do when we’re tired, or busy, or scared, or distracted, the disciples misplaced their irritations and made it about “that annoying person over there.” So did Jesus, in the beginning. “That woman over there,” however wasn’t about to give up, and in the end, although Jesus ended up doing the right thing, we are still given a look at the one place in the Bible where someone “owned” Jesus in a conversation.
The bottom line is that when the voices ARE right, they don’t shut up until we take a deep breath and do the right thing.
If you’ve been following the news following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and now, the death of Vonderitt Myers, Jr. in the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis, you’ve also been hearing another voice that won’t be silenced. It’s the voice of people crying for a sense of trust in their local police. The problem is, this voice is obscured by the difficult and convoluted details regarding these shootings, as well as the complicated and far from perfect details of the lives of these young men themselves.
It’s also complicated by an eruption and subsequent dehiscence of the thin veneer of racial politeness that has coated St. Louis for decades, maybe even centuries. If you’ve followed the #shawshooting hashtag on Twitter, the level of vitriol there is mortifying.
Missourians, and especially St. Louisans, by and large, don’t like to remember the Dred Scott decision as a part of St. Louis history–and for those of us who are Cardinal baseball fans, we try to not think about the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team was the most vicious team of all towards Dodger Jackie Robinson during his major league debut in 1947. No matter whose side you believe in the story of Cardinal outfielder Enos Slaughter’s controversial spiking of Robinson while running to first base, history is clear that the overall tone of the vicious treatment was led by Slaughter.
In stories like this, though, we need to remember the loud and confusing voices also obscure the tiny stories of the people who are trying to follow the words of Micah, to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. In the case of the Robinson/Cardinals story, it’s a story of Robinson and Stan Musial. Musial was playing first base and Robinson had reached base on a single. In Robinson’s frustration, he informed Musial how much he’d like to take apart Slaughter and his teammates. “I don’t blame you,” Stan the Man quietly replied. Under the circumstances, it might not have been much, but it also might have been all Musial was able to do or say in the moment.
Perhaps this baseball story is a microcosm of a much larger story about race. The loyal Cardinals fan in me hates this story. It tarnishes something that’s been important my whole life–my favorite baseball team since childhood. Yet I cannot shout the story down nor explain it away. I can only say I’m sorry it happened, I don’t want to be a person who ignores this story in my own dealings with others, and I’m sorry it illustrates a dark chapter in the history of race relations in St. Louis. I can only ask how I can do better in light of it, moving forward.
The voice of Lady Justice, bluntly speaking, never shuts up and never goes away. No matter how loud the shout-down is around her, she’s like the Canaanite woman–always there, and unrelenting. How is each of us called to heal her children?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, is a grateful member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a postulant to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. She occasionally finds time to write about the obscurities of life, medicine, faith, and the Episcopal Church on her blog, Kirkepiscatoid.
Jean Germain Drouais [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons