Where are we placing our treasure?

Did you rise this morning, / broken and hung over
with weariness and pain / and rage tattered from waving too long in a brutal wind?
Get up, child. / Pull your bones upright / gather your skin and muscle into a patch of sun.
Draw breath deep into your lungs; / you will need it
for another day calls to you. / I know you ache.
I know you wish the work were done / and you
with everyone you have ever loved / were on a distant shore
safe, and unafraid. / But remember this, / tired as you are:
you are not alone.
Here / and here / and here also
there are others weeping / and rising / and gathering their courage.
You belong to them / and they to you / and together,
we will break through / and bend the arc of justice
all the way down / into our lives.
“Prayer for the Morning” by Audette Fulbright Fulson

I spent this morning on the picket line outside Clivie’s school in Oakland, Piedmont Avenue Elementary School. This year being his first year in school, I am getting a crash course in all things Oakland and all things public resources. In other words, I have been schooled first hand in the devastatingly political ways public resources are diverted from the greatest needs in our communities—and reserved for those who already have more than they need. This myopic and self-interested political approach to public resources has crippled the public schools in Oakland (and many other places). Teachers cannot afford to live in the areas where they teach. Public school funds are currently siphoned off to create unnecessary charter schools rather than supplying adequate counselors, nurses, and other desperately needed support staff for the schools that exist. The party line says, “There just isn’t enough money.” But the real question is “Where are we placing our treasure?” Because where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. Are we actually willing to tell the 30,000 public school children in Oakland that “You’re really not worth the investment”? And then bemoan the desperation and poverty and crime and heartache that follow? I wonder what Jesus would have to say to us about that?

So, it was my faith that took me out to that picket line today. And it will take me out there again tomorrow. And as long as it takes. And every day, I will courageously raise Audette Fulson’s “Prayer for the Morning.” Because, indeed, not one of us is alone. I belong to those teachers and those kids at Clivie’s school; and they belong to me. But not only that, my faith calls me to belong to all those in the struggle for the just distribution of resources. We are in this together. I believe that together—and only together—we can begin to bend that arc of justice all the way down into our lives.

See you in church,