The same

Wednesday morning, my alarm clock jolted me out of bed at the usual time. The coffeemaker brewed my customary dark roast, and with the normal splash of cream, my coffee tasted the same too. 

Like I do every weekday, I walked Dicka to the bus stop at the end of the block. And again, the fallen leaves and garbage fluttered by our feet as we strode down the sidewalk together. I side-stepped the trash and sighed; it seemed the identical litter appeared every morning, even though I picked it up daily on the way back to the house.

But something about the day was different.

“I don’t want to go to school,” Dicka said.

I assessed her face. No red, drippy nose. No glassy eyes. “Why not?”

“Because everyone will be talking about the election.” She tugged her hood forward to cover her ears. “I just want it to be over.”

I curled my arm around her. “I hear you.”

At the corner, we waited for the school bus. The sixth grade girl from across the street plodded toward us like she always did. And as usual, an invisible weight—bigger than her backpack—pulled her shoulders down. My heart pinched, and I greeted her. She said hi back and then patted her mouth as she yawned, keeping an eye on me the whole time. 

I accepted her non-verbal invitation. “So, you’re pretty tired today?” 

“I watched the election last night,” she said. “I got to stay up until it was over.”

“Wow. That was late. I was asleep by ten-thirty.”

Her posture straightened, and her eyes sparked. “Did you hear Trump won?”

“I did.”

“He’ll be impeached soon. Like Nixon.” 

I imagined the conversation swirling around her TV the night before as states on the screen lit up in red or blue. What else had the adults in her house told her to make the world right for her—and for them?

The bus pulled up and the door screeched open. I kissed Dicka on the forehead and said goodbye to the neighbor girl. The two of them climbed the steps and were gone.

I walked back to the house, plucking the garbage along my path. This morning, the citizens of the country dressed in new clothes: elation, hope, shock, fear, anger. Groups had decided to protest, and others had threatened to unleash riots throughout the nation on neighborhoods like ours. But our street was quiet at eight o’clock in the morning, and the message for me and my family again reverberated off the pavement and houses that lined our block. In our changing times, our calling stayed the same.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.

If the national debt rose or fell, if immigrants were ousted or welcomed, if discrimination stamped out love like some feared or acceptance for all became the rule, nothing would change for us. We’d still talk to the girl at the bus stop, remove snow in the winter for the neighbors, take in kids in crisis, pick up the garbage. We’d still notice the invisible ones living among us, respond to the needs that were delivered to our door, and say no to the deeds that were good but not meant for us. 

And we’d stay rooted in the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.


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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.