Fighting with love.


I’m sitting in my garage. I’m shaken. Anti-Semitic and racist hate was written on the driveway outside my garage door this morning.
Its 3 1/2 hours later.
The enormity of what I have seen is catching up to me.
I’m sitting on a stool. Typing out this message on my phone. I’m shaken.
I was cool as a cucumber when I saw the words at 7 am. I had just left the house with the dogs to go around the block. I was talking to my sister on the phone.
“Oh, look,” I said to her off-handedly. “Anti-Semitic chalk outside my house. And some backwards swastikas.”
My sister seemed more upset than I was. But she was appropriate, taking the cue from me not to freak out.
We talked as I walked the dogs.
I texted Jane when I got back to come downstairs. I was very rational. I even joked that it was nice they used chalk as it was easy to clean up.
We decided that we wouldn’t clean it until the kids were up. We would handle hatred and erase it together. As a family.
I had an appointment to do spiritual-direction at 8, so I did. I told the man with whom I was working that I was a tiny bit distracted and I told him why. We had a great session. Talked about what God — if God were this man’s boss — might have said to him at his last “performance review.” It was insightful.
9 o’clock I come upstairs. Annie, age 7 asks me if I saw the graffiti. I tell her I did.
She tells me, “Now I know what the ‘N’ word is.”
Wow. We eat some honey-nut Cheerios together. We talk, we laugh.
Emmett is doing a jigsaw puzzle in the next room.
Sarah, who lives with us comes in the kitchen. Annie tells her about the incident. Prior to meeting us, Sarah (age 20) hasn’t known many (or possibly any) Jews. She runs to the window. She looks. She is horrified. She says, “I didn’t know people did this anymore.”
I knew this happened. I just didn’t think it happened. Or that it would happen outside my house.
We all go outside. Annie uses the hose first and erases half of the offensive words and symbols. Emmett does the other half. We adorn the wet pavement with hearts and peace signs. Sarah beautifully writes out, “Love always wins.”
Neighbors join us. We speculate. Was it a local teen? We live next to a high school. Was it an adult? Our little block is diverse, an Indian family, a retired Christian woman, a Jewish family, our mixed tradition family. Did they target me as a rabbi?
Standing on the street, we feel each other’s support. Love. Solidarity.
I go back in the house and make a second breakfast. Toasted challah with cream cheese and delicious strawberry preserve. The cut up two pieces on a plate remind me of my father. I sit on the porch.
Jane has posted to Facebook earlier. I see on my phone that her thread has blown up with support.
I feel the ground slipping from me.
I was fine until now.
Now I’m scared.
I got through it. Until now.
I realize this is why I made myself the second breakfast – to stuff down the feelings. To feel something.
I text John P. He’s a pastor know through FB and a few phone calls. I text him that I could use his support. It’s after church time on the East coast where he lives. He calls.
“John,” I tell him, “what happened was random. So I needed you, who are a random pastor I know, to help combat it.”
We talk.
It helps.
There is something about the randomness of the hateful occurrence that required the randomness of a stranger’s love.
That is what helped even more than his actual words. That I know that random people will love and support me.
I know love always wins. I know
Sitting here in my garage, I know that love will win.
Hate-mongering is rampant these days. It’s pernicious at best, but probably closer to insidious. It’s appalling. It’s vicious.
We can choose to fight hate with hate. We can. But, we ought not to.
As MLK said, “Darkness cannot drive out hatred, only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred, only love can do that.
Lately, in their frustration and fear, I hear people saying “I don’t know what to do.”
I will tell you what to do: Be more loving.
Randomly love. Strategically love.
Take actions that are loving. Be caught being loving. Do loving things even when no one will notice.
Be loving.
The time is now. The time has always been now and the time is now. Do not wait. You need love. I need love. Our world needs love.
What choice is there other than love?
The only way to fight back is with love.
With love,
Rabbi Brian

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