When the Millstone is Tied Around Our Own Necks

Old Millstones from Flickr via Wylio
© 2013 Andrew Bowden, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

I’m in bed with my 6-year-old daughter Abra, waiting for her to fall asleep. She rolls over and pats me on the shoulder as if to say, “Everything will be okay.” Then she faces away from me and tucks her hand under her pillow.

Outside of her room, the sun has set on a cool summer evening in a beautiful little city in the United States. Trees line the streets here, their night time shadows drifting along the sidewalk. When I sit on my porch during the day I watch cars stream by. Doctors and nurses walk past my house on their way to the hospital down the street. Teens hang out on the steps of the tattoo parlor. An old, African-American man waves to me, smiling, nodding his crown of silver hair. I wave back.

Not too many days ago, fifteen hundred miles south of my city, small children rode into another small town on a large bus. They were greeted by a mob, many of whom were Christians, demanding they be returned to where they came from. We have no room here. There is no space for them.

Our certainty and our anger give us the strength to pick up even a millstone, and we attach it to that bus and throw it into the bottomless sea, and the rope begins to grow taut, but it is nothing to us because this is our land.

We forget that the other end of the rope is around our own necks.

Don’t be cruel to any of these little ones! I promise you that their angels are always with my Father in heaven.

Halfway around the world the missiles and the rockets are fired and children are killed. 1,760 Palestinian children have been killed since the year 2000, along with 132 Israeli children. We argue on Facebook and post videos and the massacre continues. Hospitals are hit. More rockets fired.

What are we doing for the least of these?

In America, we have less and less time for the least of these. We barely have time for our own families. So we race from work to home to sports to our television sets and the least of these are crying out all around the world, all around us while we collapse into bed, too tired to feel the rope tightening. The millstone is growing heavy.

“What are we doing for people here, in our community?” Maile asked me last night, and I didn’t know what to say.

What are we doing for the least of these?

We feel bad. Of course. But we turn them away.

And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

So we march and we shake our fists and we talk about things like immigration policy and national pride and “why-can’t-the-person-on-the-other-end-of-the-phone-line-talk-English-for-God’s-sake” and we celebrate in the exhaust and dust of a retreating bus, children’s faces pressed up against the window.

We call ourselves Christians, but we don’t even recognize the true identity of the one we’re protesting, the one we’re refusing to help.

* * * * *

I walk downstairs and check on my 5-year-old son. He is already asleep. He smuggled some Legos into bed with him, and they fall out of the covers when I move to tuck him in. His face is peaceful.

This is America the beautiful.

5 Replies to “When the Millstone is Tied Around Our Own Necks”

  1. Wow, Shawn….you really hit me right between the eyes with this post. Thank you,

  2. Most of the time it’s too hard to let myself feel the weight of all these things that you wrote about (all so true)- so I just block it out and let busyness fill that space. It’s getting harder and harder to ignore though.

  3. Very eye-opening. I’m asking myself how can I help. Prayer is something we can all do now. We can pray for peace. I know most of us could do a lot more than pray.

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