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When a Heart needs to be a Spade

Summer Break. We made it? The anxiety of remote learning for this middle school family has finally released its grip. Gone (at least for a little while) are the weekly assignments; we no longer have to remember the 2,036 internet login codes for different learning platforms; our schedules are not dictated by a complicated and intricate Zoom meeting calendar to determine who in our small family needs access to which devices at what times. To celebrate our much deserved free time, we decided to play a game together. We pulled out a deck of cards for a friendly game of Crazy 8’s. 

Take a look at the picture of my hand. What in the world?!? 

My husband’s grandmother, G-mommy, was a bit eccentric (okay, this might be a bit of an understatement). Turns out we found one of her old decks of cards. 

G-mommy loved games and riddles and jokes. She was curious, and her curiosity was unrelenting. There are countless stories of her showing up in places that were deemed off-limits, Christmas presents that were opened before the family gatherings, and general boundary-crossing mayhem. As we can all now plainly see, rules were more like a starting point for her. You could almost always be certain that with a thin smile and a twinkle in her eye, she was going to mix things up.

Perhaps, during this time and in this season, we all need a G-mommy perspective and attitude. We need a sense of curiosity to go a little deeper, listen a little harder, see the world, and our place in it a bit differently. A curiosity that will not let us settle for “truthiness” when the whole world desperately needs truth that can liberate and usher in the new. A curiosity that unsettles our spirits and motivates our being to go one step further in following a holy calling.

Perhaps, we need to take out our markers and edit the deck as a holy offering of love. You see, sometimes, we use rules not because they are inherently fair but because they allow us to game the system in our favor. When we take a look at the hand our neighbor has been dealt and realize that there is no way they will ever win, are we being called to share our markers and together figure out how to change the face values? There is an inherent lack of fairness in our world. We see this in a global health crisis that affects certain demographics disproportionately, in an environmental crisis that wreaks havoc on the poor, and in the very structuring of our society which is replete with white privilege. Scripture tells us repeatedly that all of this grieves the heart of God. A holy repentance is needed. Fair would be a good start.

When my son was in elementary school there were posters all along the hallways of the school that talked about fairness. Fairness as an ethic for that community of learners did not mean that everyone had the same. Fairness meant that everyone had what they needed. It so happened that decades ago, G-mommy needed a few spades – so she pulled out a marker and created a Royal Flush. What changes need to be made so that our neighbors have what they need today?

Amanda Atkin
Associate Minister of Faith Formation