He was beautiful to me. We exchanged knowing glances and I thought “he could be my son.” Then a subway authority officer stopped him, the twinkle left his eye, and my heart sank.
That subway authority officer technically did nothing wrong, yet his feelings trumped his “diplomatic” actions. Perhaps the only heart that we can transform is our own. Maybe this was the prayer of the psalmist “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
I wonder what would be different if I could go back to that day with a bit more of Christ’s spirit in my heart. I am certain that I would have felt the same affection towards the young man, “he could be my son,” but perhaps I would have found the courage to talk to him and ask him if he was ok (putting love into action). My feelings of bitterness and anger might still remain, but perhaps they would have been re-directed.
I was not really angry at the subway authority, I was angry at the racist ideologies that have trained people to fear black men. I was bitter that my anger and fear stopped me from seeing that officer as my neighbor. Could he be beautiful to me as well? Possibly, one day…
-Alydia Smith is Program Coordinator, Worship, Music and Spirituality; The United Church of Canada.