True Country: A different Virginia story. 

“Here’s what you gotta do. Turn on the shower as hot as possible. Stick your head under there and all that stuff will come right out. I’ve done it.” 
It was a gross image. Stuff coming right out. 

I didn’t know what “stuff” but I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to see “it” coming out. Especially since I was currently having breakfast. I wasn’t a part of this conversation, I was simply sitting at a table near by,but it was still gross. 

The woman who was speaking was a waitress at the Waffle House in Norfolk, Virginia. She was talking to an elderly gentlemen who evidently had some “stuff” that was causing discomfort. He sat there across the counter from the woman listening intently and openly. She leaned over the counter toward him with a genuine desire to help. It was touching. Here in this small diner in eastern Virginia two people were having a simple conversation. What probably wasn’t on their mind was their skin color. 

The waitress was white. The elderly gentleman was black. In that moment, however, they were just two people engaged in a calm conversation about solving a problem. 

Most of us know about the racial tensions going on in parts of our country, especially Virginia. But knowing there’s tension does nothing to solve it. Pointing out how we are different does not ease that tension. Vilifying one another only widens the divide. There are many of those who wish to use a knife to heal wounds initially inflicted by the knife. Wouldn’t we rather  heal with what is truly needed? Time and stitches. 

We all have “stuff” in our heads and hearts that makes us uncomfortable. Right now in the U.S., the discomfort palpable. It is driving many people to takes steps in anger and vitriol. We think that our anger will help us find peace. We think it will help drain the stuff. But it won’t. A hot shower probably won’t fix it either. Honestly, I don’t know what would fix it. Other than the saving grace and power of Christ I can’t see what would ease the deep and painful hurts that so many of my brothers and sisters have felt and experienced. 

What I do know is that if we want to make progress towards healing, we must be willing to sit across a counter from those who are different than us and talk about the “stuff”… gross or not.