At What Cost?


Good afternoon people of God,

This morning I dropped my children off at school and found myself on 75th Street north of Louisville. As I looked out the window and watched some chickens, geese, and ducks (including ducklings) scurry through grass playing and scavenging for food, I listened to recordings of interviews of people who survived Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. The juxtaposition of the cohabitating birds with the stories of trauma and people fleeing islands that are now decimated made my stomach twist. How will we respond to those who no longer have homes, safe drinking water, or places for school and work?

There is a story of a father and son. The son repeatedly gets angry at his father and mother and siblings, and in an effort to give his son an outlet for his anger, the father walks his son with a hammer and handful of nails to an unblemished fencepost in their yard. The father tells his son “every time you’re angry enough that you want to yell or shout or call names or point out the worst aspects of your family members, I want you to come outside and pound a nail into the fencepost.” As coping mechanisms for anger goes, it worked fairly well. Over a couple weeks the son had pounded dozens of nails into the fencepost, and the words of anger he shouted at his family had dissipated. One day the son came to his father and told him he didn’t feel compelled to yell at his parents or siblings when he was mad anymore, so he didn’t think he needed the fencepost, hammer, and nails. The father told his son there was one more step to the exercise. They walked out to the fencepost, and the father told his son to remove each nail that had been put into the wood out of anger. It seemed no matter how much the son had changed, he could not return the fencepost to its original state of “unblemished.”

God created each of us uniquely and beautifully. God also created our free will and gave us the capacity to read and study and learn and form opinions and try things and to change our minds and more. As we journey into this week to learn about Jesus’s ancestors Jacob and Esau, I invite you to consider the power of conflict in your personal life and the invitation to peaceful cohabitation. What fencepost holes will forever remain between us as individuals, nuclear families, or even larger communities?

May you find peace this day,

Rev Elizabeth M Jackson

PS - If you would like to learn more about the impact of Hurricane Dorian on the Bahamas, read here. To make donations to UMCOR, please click here.