Gilead Sabbath

May 17, 2015

by Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper
Senior Minister

What we do about the suffering and oppression of people thousand miles away may have more to do with changing the question than providing the answer. What we do is to care. We probably can’t cure. Often when we can’t cure, we stop caring.

Lucy Stone, the famous suffragette, was different. In the new biography of her An Unapologetic Life, Sally G McMillen, Oxford, we learn that she had the chance for a small objective – women’s civil and property rights – but decided on a larger objective, supporting the 15th Amendment’s intention to give black men the right to vote. She suffered for this political expansiveness by being shunned by the other women leaders. They thought she wanted too much and was diluting their cause.

Or think of the reframing made in this statement by Federico Garcia Lorca: “I will always be on the side of those who have nothing and who are not even allowed to enjoy the nothing they have in peace.” Imagine the horror of corrective rape – where you are tutored out of being a lesbian by being raped – or the horror of losing the very sexual vitality you have as a young man because you are so afraid of being caught and killed.

Or hear Eldridge Cleaver: “And why does it make you sad to see how everything hangs by such thin and whimsical threads? Because you’re a dreamer, an incredible dreamer, with a tiny spark hidden somewhere inside you which cannot die, which even you cannot kill or quench and which tortures you horribly because all the odds are against its continual burning. In the midst of the foulest decay and putrid tragedy this spark speaks to you of beauty, of human warmth and kindness, of goodness, of greatness, of heroism, of martyrdom, and it speaks to you of love.” Soul On Ice, 1968.

If we can’t cure the hatred and fear that lives in some human souls, we can care more than others do, like Lucy Stone did. We can take Lorca to the bank and demand that people enjoy what little they do have in peace. And we can join Cleaver in dreaming and keeping our spark just a bit larger than our speck. You know the speck. It might even be called speckness. We are very small and the trouble is very charge. Still we know that we’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. Doing nothing sides with the status quo.

So maybe we can’t cure. But we can care. We can enjoy in peace. We can spark our speck. We need not be part of the problem by being afraid of it. We need not side with the status quo. We can care, enjoy and spark. Thank you, Dora and team for taking us on a journey this morning. Thank you very much.

55 Washington Square South New York, NY 10012 | phone: 212-477-0351 | fax: 212-995-0844