Did the George Floyd murder teach us nothing? Nothing about pain? Did being shut up for a year with time to ponder the string of murders of People of Color and reflect on their reality have no effect on our hearts? Did the numerous murders teach us nothing at all? Nothing about grief? Nothing about rage? The rage born from torment. From not just one verdict or legal case or one shooting or one suffocating death, but multiples of them…events over the course of lifetimes both known and unknown.
Rage planted as a seed, hundreds of years ago. Rage gone underground, growing and putting roots in deep. Every beating at the whipping post increasing the fullness of its branches. Every separation of family nourishing its roots. Every rape and violation strengthening its trunk. A mostly-silent anger seething and bubbling, because to lash out or fight back meant and still means death. To refuse the master was and is to call down suffering.
Refusing the master always means trouble. A knee on the neck. A gun to the gut. A flame to the feet. To say, “No more!” to the master invites his dormant dominance to rise up and display its ‘power over.’ Power over life and death. Power over unity or separation. Power over respect or violation. Power over captivity or freedom. In every area. Power over. To rule and to make it known where the power lies. Who has it…and who doesn’t.
The planted rage only grows bigger under the master. It becomes a rolling boil, spilling and splattering into the streets. It disguises itself as lawlessness. It wears a mask of looting and destruction, but underneath the masks, the fury of constantly being ‘under’ the master carries agony and heartache beyond the external actions. The externals are merely expressions of the depth of the pain, the grief, the rejection…the release of pent up frustrations.
The picture is bigger than the most recent incidents and verdicts. It is an unseen battle of epic proportions. Generations old. Powers and principalities locked in strategic warfare. Using human pawns to make themselves visible to the world. The heat of their invisible conflict intensifies with each shooting, turning on the light to the seen world. The unseen combatants draw lines which blur in the midst of the fighting. Confusion is the fuel of this foe. His arrogant surety is his trademark identifier. Beware his prideful superiority; find instead the Humble Servant and follow Him to the tree.
The tree grown from the rage-seed planted generations ago. The one watered with the blood of victims in the fight. The seed that has grown into an enormous tree with deep roots which drink from an underground river of sorrow. On its branches hangs the strange fruit that has been so eloquently penned and hauntingly sung about. Death is the fruit of this lynching tree. Violent death. The shooting, burning, hanging deaths of those who are ‘under’. Lynching is always changing forms, trying to disguise itself, but still the same outcome. Generations of those who have no power, put to death because they induce fear among the powerful.
The Humble Servant knows what it means to be feared by those in power. He knows deep suffering and being misunderstood. He was despised and rejected. He was not esteemed by men but tortured by them. A voluntary captive to their ‘power over’ Him. He knows what it means for a crowd to turn rabid. He was abandoned by the government, the religious leaders, His followers and friends, and His family. God, Himself turned His face away.
The powers that be, stripped Him of his skin. Pierced His head with a crown. The crowd raised their fists. They spit and called Him names. They stripped Him of his clothes and dignity. They paraded Him through the streets. Until, they finally hung Him on a tree.
Therefore, the Humble Servant is familiar with the ancient tree and the unseen battle. He knows what it means to be hung up to die…but He also knows the power that comes after. Not over. Not under. But After. After the heartache comes healing. After battle comes victory. After the eyes are opened. After, when the crowd who hung Him up, wept at His feet. In our times, we may not have learned enough to see the bigger picture, yet. We may still be stuck in our small-minded tunnel-visioned ways. It may seem as though the unseen battle that has been fought for centuries will never end. But still we have hope. The Humble Servant is the hope we cling to as we wait for the after.