Monday, October 09, 2006
A Sign and a Psalm
Last week I walked behind the old court house on my way somewhere. I noticed a historical marker that I hadn't seen before. It noted that on this square, in the shadow of the courthouse, humans were once sold. White people would buy and trade black people here. The marker noted that children were often separated from their parents. This was also the site of a whipping post where slaves were beaten if they were out in town past curfew. Here was the market, an open air, free market, and the law enforcement, that sustained slavery here in our town, in Lexington. When I turned away from this sign, I saw that I had missed the light at the crosswalk. I felt a bit disoriented as I waited on this corner with my thoughts. I could be down the street had I not read this sign. It is a sort of burden to consider our history on a sunny morning; it does not lend itself to efficiency. It is not terribly easy to get on with a morning after such a lesson (though, to be fair, it is probably easier than it should be.) I am not sure how the Psalmist does it. Psalm 90 begins with a reflection that God has been our dwelling place for all generations, that God has been "from everlasting to everlasting." God has been present throughout our histories, observing, participating, allowing some pepole to buy and trade, and others to be bound. Somehow, the Psalmist is not paralyzed by history. How can this be? How are we to journey with this God who has been present for our sins and those of our fathers? How can I ask that God establish the work of my hands when they tremble so?