This morning, my oldest son and I dropped his younger brother off at preschool before heading to the gas station, the coffee shop and his school.
But today’s visit to his elementary school was different, because we didn’t walk through its doors – and neither did 467 of his classmates. As you may have seen on the news, Oakland public school teachers are on strike …and as a family who benefits from the local public education system, we too have been affected.
I laughed at the irony of it all, for of course (of course, of course, of course), the strike is not about me, nor is it about the timing that would have worked best for my schedule. Had that been the case, the strike wouldn’t have taken place in my busiest season, when I’m speaking and preaching and entering into conversations like my (first quarter book sales) life depends on it.
Not about me, of that I am certain.
But the strike is about resistance, about exercising the right to stand up to injustice and to systems that aren’t benefitting those who need it most. After all, as one of my favorite theologians writes,
“Resistance is the protest of those who hope, and the hope is the feast of the people who resist.”
And, I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for hope – for hope is the heart of the gospel.
It’s not about sin. And it’s not about salvation. It’s not about the ABC’s of believing in Jesus so we might secure a spot for our desperate selves in heaven, nor is it about saying the perfect words or praying the perfect words.
But it’s simply about the God of hope – the one who not only gives hope but who is hope.
So, when my feet stomp alongside the teachers and support staff who are desperate for a little bit of hope in a broken system, I can’t help but camp out in the land of hopefulness – for those who resist feast on hope, over and over and over again.
After all, at the end of the day, hope is all we’ve got. And isn’t this true for each of us, regardless of whether we’re standing on the picket lines?
We hold onto hope when our marriage is falling apart and we cling to hope when loneliness feels like it’s going to eat us alive. We cry out for hope when we don’t know how we’re going to pay our bills and we ask for a little bit of light in the darkness when the injustice of racism and hate continues to claim the lives of our brothers and sisters of color.
We hope because sometimes it’s all we can do, because sometimes it’s all we have left.
As for my oldest boy (and the thousands of students in the school district), it doesn’t look like the strike’s going to be over anytime soon – although I could be wrong. So, while we wait, we’ll continue to dig into this extra gift of time together, into the privilege I have of being able to teeter-totter between an hour of writing and an hour of being with my baby, one hope-filled turn of the clock at a time.
Or so I hope.
So, m’dears, I’ve got a single question for you. What is HOPE to you?
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