I’ve noted before that I blog in the middle, and I continue to think that this blog could’ve been simply and aptly named “Blogging in the Middle.”
Being in the middle of polarities and factions isn’t the easiest and most comfortable place to be; I daresay it’s probably easier to be sufficiently convicted in one’s own mind that he or she can stand firmly and confidently on one side or the other of a binary and say whatever he or she wants while feeling indubitably correct. Or then again, for all I know maybe that would actually be more frustrating for me, given that I would feel like the other side just doesn’t get it and so refuses to accept the truth that is so obvious to me. But be all that as it may, I guess I simply feel most correct when I typically (but of course not always) argue that “the truth is in the middle.”
I think it’s fair to say that I tend to stand in the middle not only when blogging, but also when speaking in public. And so true to form, that’s where I ended up when I spoke on a recent Sunday about the idea that “Kind is better than clever.”
The sermon’s narrative began with a story about my humorous and unexpected challenge of buying cake mixes for my wife, and progressed through a few quotes from Abraham Joshua Heschel, a few biblical passages, recent news concerning Michael Brown, Darren Wilson and Tamir Rice, and ended up with this November 25th photo of young Devonte Hart hugging police sergeant Bret Branson at a protest rally in Portland.
Relative to my point, in a certain sense that photo is about blogging, speaking, and living in the middle. In part, the beauty of the moment it captures is that it speaks so urgently and profoundly as to why, sometimes, the middle is the right place to be. While the rest of the world stands apart and does what is easiest—that is, pointing fingers this way and that—young Devonte actively stands in the middle, with the truth of innocence, fear and courage whispered to us by his tears. I stared at this photo for a long time, in silence, when it came up in my news reader.
For those of you who don’t care to take the time to listen to the sermon that I’ve included here, I’ll give you the very, very brief version: It was as much a sermon directed at myself as it was to anyone else. I’ve spent my life admiring clever and intelligent people, with my pride swelling and telling and trying to convince me that I am one of them. But I am growing older. And, thanks be to God, I find myself now knowing that I must instead and firstly admire kind people—and that I must pray most of all that I become one of them.
Thank you, Devonte, for reminding us of truth — and that the Kingdom belongs to children.