#PhilandoCastile Was My Neighbor

Another shooting by police. This time, a neighbor.

Here’re my thoughts right now. They’re kind of raw.

Philando Castile worked in an elementary school cafeteria. He lived just minutes away from where I grew up. He drew his last breath, facing a police gun during a traffic stop, just minutes away from my school.

Philando Castile was my neighbor.

Jesus said that God’s law is fulfilled in one simple little thing:“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Or maybe it’s not so simple.

What does is mean to love my neighbor as myself when my neighbor is executed for the crime of a busted tail light and being born black? What does it mean when I get pulled over and get a warning, and Philando gets pulled over and gets 4 bullets in his body?

This may be another awful TV tragedy to you. In the last month we’ve gasped in horror a few too many times: Orlando. Istanbul. Baghdad. Alton Sterling. That kid who was dragged off by an alligator. They all start to blur together, don’t they? So what’s another name on the list? Another gasp? Another sad emoticon?

I’m as fatigued as you are. I’ll admit that I scrolled right past Istanbul, right past the alligator kid. But to me, Philando feels different.

I’ve written before about the ways in which the #BlackLivesMatter movement is making me take racial violence personally. It’s gotten under my skin. It’s sent me straight to the cross for God’s grace. It’s made me realize how desperately I need it.

God’s gift to me today was grief. Grief I couldn’t scroll past.

Today I feel the horror of Philando’s death physically. My heart hurts. My chest feels broken open. I cried three times before lunch.

I think I’m starting to glimpse what Jesus was getting at.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Now don’t start thinking that I somehow mustered enough virtue to feel bad today. I’ve never been good at virtuous emotions. No one would accuse me of a saintly disposition.

No, this was different. This pain was from God. It’s a pain that isn’t looking for comfort. I don’t want it fixed.

This pain is a holy piercing that nails my heart right to the heart of my crucified God and my executed neighbor. It’s a pain that sent me to the street tonight to protest. It’s a pain that will send me back tomorrow, with prayers and with tears.

I’ve got a long ways to go to love my neighbor as myself, and I know I’ll need a lot of grace along the way, but today I’m grateful for the gift of a broken heart. I pray that God’s light will shine through the cracks.

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