Miracles

I was down at the river for a little while this morning. I don’t really look for Chris, but I just feel a little closer to him when I’m there. And I was thinking about everyone, including myself, praying for a miracle.

And then it came into my being that there are so many miracles already happening. The Mississippi is a vast river. It’s bold and beautiful. And it seems like looking for Chris there is a little like looking for a needle in a haystack. And the faith and dedication and hard work of these rescuers who don’t know us but who put their lives on the line to look for a mother’s son. That’s a miracle. And when they find him, however, they find him, that will be a miracle.

And I experience the love and support of my friends and family as a miracle, too. I am in so much deep pain and sorrow right now. All of our family is. And so are our close friends and our colleagues and our churches and our friends from around the world and people we don’t even know but who feel a mother’s and a family’s love, and those who have lost a child and who show me the grace, courage and strength to walk along with me. These are all miracles.

And Chris’s friend Mickayla had reminded me that Chris’s favorite Bible story is about Jesus calming the storm because he got to tell that story to his dad when he suffered a massive stroke and we didn’t know whether he would survive. And Chris told him that no matter what happened, Jesus is with him and he will never be alone, even when he feels like he is. And some of Chris’s friends are religious, others not, but many now have tattoos that Chris was talking about getting of a boat and some of them have written, “You are not alone” because that is what that story means to Chris. And getting to share this story and this faith with so many of his friends, that’s a miracle, too.

And then I was thinking about our worship at Tapestry today. Even though others will lead worship, I of course am thinking through logistics. And it occurred to me that the profile picture I posted after Easter Sunday is a picture of the bread and wine. And the communion cups we use are cups that Chris made in his pottery class in high school. He was so proud of them, and so am I. And we get to share the love and forgiveness of Jesus every week using these beautiful cups that Chris made. And that’s a miracle.

And I think of Tapestry, my community of faith. Martha is has been cooking with us and for us for the last couple of years now, and she often makes food for my family. She always makes sure to make something vegetarian for Chris. And salsas, too. And he loves her cooking, especially the chilaquiles. And Evelia reminded me that Chris told us he takes his dates for Mexican food at Adelita’s and Sarah wrote a poem and Linda is always there for me and Josue and so many others. And they walk with me in this and I know their hearts are broken, too. They’ve gotten to know Chris and they love him, too, just as I love their children. We’ve walked together in this little, impactful ministry for a little more than two years now, and we’re building bridges and crossing them with people who are different from each other. And this is a miracle.

As you continue to pray for miracles, please know that many have already happened. And they continue to happen. You are not alone.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

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Cuando la tragedia de la pastora se convierte en el titular

(Gracias a mi muy buen amigo Andres Albertsen for traducir este blog para mi. Se lo agradezco mucho).

Se cree que mi hijo Chris de alguna manera cayó en el Río Mississippi. Está desaparecido desde el martes a la noche y ahora estamos en el sábado a la mañana y no sé dónde está. La noticia está en los diarios, en la radio, en la televisión y por supuesto, en mi página de Facebook y en las páginas de amigos, familias, e incluso de otros a quienes la tragedia ha conmovido.

Nunca imaginé que un día estaría escribiendo esto aquí. Por supuesto que no, porque ¿quién piensa que alguna vez serás tú la pobre madre cuyo hijo está desaparecido? Supongo que en cierto sentido nuestra experiencia es distinta de la de otros que han pasado por algo parecido. Soy una persona muy pública, tanto por mi vocación pastoral como por mi activismo y por ser como soy.

Y Chris y Austin y yo tenemos una comunidad a nuestro alrededor que nos apoya y nos brinda amor de una manera increíble. Por esto voy a estar eternamente agradecida.

Y tenemos un Dios que nos está sosteniendo en este mismo momento.

La gente viene y se sienta conmigo y se expresa de maneras tan distintas. Me traen comida. Tengo más comida en casa de la que alguna vez he tenido. La verdad es que no me gusta mucho ir al supermercado ni tampoco cocinar. Algunos me han dado dinero. Algunos han escrito poemas. Tantas son las personas que han compartido nuestra historia, que han llorado con nosotros, que han orado con nosotros, que han lamentado y se han afligido con nosotros, que han cantado con nosotros, que nos han abierto sus corazones.

La gente me cuenta que no sabe qué decirme. No tienen palabras. Y yo les digo que está bien, porque yo no sé tampoco qué decirme a mí misma.

A los pastores y pastoras nos gusta controlar las cosas, aun cuando oramos que se haga la voluntad de Dios y aun cuando aquellos que estamos en uno de esos programas de los 12 pasos sabemos lo que significa dejar todo en las manos de Dios.  Nosotros y nosotras somos quienes habitualmente estamos en el medio de la tragedia de otra persona. No sabemos ser la persona que está sufriendo la tragedia y que necesita aceptar ayuda y pedirla y aceptar los ofrecimientos de otras personas en la forma de comida, oraciones y compañía.

Pero, ¿qué otra cosa puedo hacer que dejar todo en las manos de Dios y permitir que otras personas estén a mi lado? No me queda otra.

En la noche en que esto sucedió, hubo unos pocos oficiales de policía que no manejaron la situación como debían. Al principio no querían darme información. Insistían en transferirme de un distrito a otro y de una jurisdicción a otra. Solo eran un par de personas. Un sargento me colgó el teléfono. No conozco el protocolo de la policía, pero estoy seguro de que no es esto lo que les enseñan.

De modo que publiqué mi angustia por la falta de comunicación aquí en Facebook. Lo tuiteé también. Y algunos amigos salieron en mi defensa. Ellos saben quiénes son. Yo sé quiénes son algunos de ellos. Por su intervención, estaré por siempre agradecida. En especial quiero agradecerle a mi amiga Emilia. Ella no para hasta salirse con la suya. Bueno, esto es lo que tengo para decir de ella. Cuando leyó mi historia, les escribió lo siguiente a algunos legisladores:

“… ayer Chris, el amado hijo de la Rev. Melissa Melnick cayó en las aguas del río Mississippi y no ha sido encontrado. El departamento de policía de Minneapolis y la policía de parques le están escapando a la mamá de Chris, transfiriéndola de un lugar a otro o colgándole el teléfono. Esta es una madre tratando de encontrar a su hijo, un hombre joven a quien tanto le importaba tener una Minneapolis mejor. Que se hacía presente por otras personas, inmigrantes, negros, el agua, los pobres y las personas desplazadas. Un hombre joven que se estaba despertando en un mundo por el que sabía que tenía que luchar si quería que su generación lo disfrutara. La comunidad que ama y se preocupa por la Rev. Melnick y su familia está profundamente angustiada y ora con fuerza para que Chris sea encontrado. ¿Qué cosa más inhumana puede haber que negarle a una madre información acerca de su hijo? Por favor, #encuentrenaChris.”

Al mismo tiempo, hubo gente de la patrulla de aguas de la oficina del sheriff del condado de Hennepin que decidió intervenir, a pesar de que el caso no estaba a su cargo, para determinar a quién le correspondía estar hablando conmigo. Y una amable persona de la sección despachos me llamó. Y tantos amigos me llamaron. La alcaldesa de Minneapolis intervino y mi concejal Lisa Bender me llamó. Y otros amigos de toda la vida contactaron a gente que conocen. Y mi hermana contactó a la prensa. Y entonces las autoridades comenzaron a prestar atención y a comunicarse.

A Chris y a mí nos importa mucho la justicia y la equidad. Soy totalmente consciente, y Chris lo sería también, de que mucha gente es tratada de esta manera. Y de que usualmente son sólo una o dos las personas que ponen trabas o que son las “manzanas podridas,” como les gusta decir. La diferencia, y aquí debo hablar de privilegio, es que nosotros fuimos vistos y escuchados. Hay montones de familias por ahí con un ser querido que les falta y muchas preguntas sin respuestas. Y que no tienen el acceso que nosotros hemos tenido. De modo que me pongo junto a aquellos cuyas voces no están siendo escuchadas y les pido que los y las escuchen. Les suplico a aquellos que no están viendo ni escuchando a las personas tienen seres queridos desaparecidos que por favor abran sus corazones para ver y escuchar a las queridas familias y amigos de otros que están desaparecidos, sea que se trate de “buenos chicos” como los míos u otros que la están luchando de una manera u otra. Gracias por defender a Chris. Gracias por verlo a él y por escucharme a mí.

Mi familia ha visto algunas cosas odiosas y críticas hacia Chris. Quiero que sepan que Chris tiene todo nuestro amor. No me importan los trolls. Rezo por ellos. Rezo para que tengan paz y compasión en sus corazones. Por favor sólo tengan amor en su corazón. Chris es un ser humano. Pecador y santo. Amado.

Hoy voy a ir al río y algunas personas me van a acompañar.

Mañana estaré con mi comunidad de Tapestry en la iglesia. Pero mañana iré como una madre que es pastora y no como la pastora que también es madre. Otros serán los oficiantes. Quizás mañana sea un día lleno de gozo porque mi bebé fue encontrado sano y salvo. O quizás no.

Estoy segura de que la gente se está cansando de mis frecuentes y tristes publicaciones. Algunos quizás prefieran que vuelva a mis acostumbradas publicaciones y discusiones sobre política. Y está bien. Yo también estoy cansada de todo esto. Tómense un descanso. Refrésquense. Hagan cosas que aman. Digan una oración por nosotros de tanto en tanto. Miren el río y disfruten su magnífica belleza y respeten su poder.

A mis amigos y familia que están lejos, en otras ciudades y países, les digo que escucho su angustia en sus oraciones, llamados, publicaciones, mensajes. Sepan que encuentro consuelo y fortaleza en saber que están orando por Chris alrededor del mundo.

Sepan que Dios está con nosotros y nosotras y que Dios está con ustedes. Chris es un hijo de Dios y Dios se está ocupando de él. También Austin lo es. También el papá de los chicos. También yo. También tú, mi querido amigo, mi querida amiga, que está leyendo esto. ¡Paz!

 

When the pastor’s tragedy becomes the headline

My son Chris is believed to have gone into the Mississippi River somehow. He has been missing since Tuesday evening and it is now Saturday morning and I don’t know where he is. It’s in the newspapers, on the radio, on television news and, of course, all over my own Facebook page and on the pages of friends, family, and even those who are just touched by this tragedy.

I never thought that I would use this page to write this post. Of course I didn’t, because who ever thinks you will be that poor mother whose son is missing? I suppose in some ways our experience is a little different from most others who have experienced something like this. I’m a very public person, both because of my call as pastor and because of my activism and because that’s just how I am.

And Chris and Austin and I have a community around us that is so incredibly supportive and loving. And for this I will be eternally grateful.

And we have a God who is holding us right now.

People come to me and sit with me and they express themselves in so many different ways. They bring food. I have more food in my house now than I ever have. I don’t really like grocery shopping and I’m not too much of a cook. Some have given me money. Some have written poetry. So many have shared our story, cried with us, prayed with us, mourned and grieved with us, sung with us, opened their hearts to us.

People tell me they don’t know what to say to me. They don’t have words. And I tell them it’s okay because I don’t know what to say to me, either.

We pastors like to control things, even though we pray for God’s will to be done and those of us in a 12-step program of any kind know to let go and let God. We are usually the ones there in the midst of someone else’s tragedy. We don’t really know how to be the one with the tragedy who needs to accept help and to reach out and accept others’ offers of food, prayer, company.

But what else can I do but let go and let God and let others be by my side? There is no other.

The night this happened, there were a few police officers who did not handle this situation as they should have. They wouldn’t give me any information at first. They kept transferring me from precinct to precinct, jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It was really just a couple of people. One sergeant hung up on me. I don’t know all the police protocol, but I’m quite certain this is not in their field guide.

So I posted my anguish about the lack of communication on Facebook. I tweeted it. And friends advocated for me. They know who they are. I know who some of them are. For their intervention, I will forever be grateful. I do want to especially thank my friend Emilia. She “gets shit done” as I think she might say. Well, that’s what I say about her. When she read my story, she wrote this to some elected officials:

…yesterday, Chris, the loved son of Reverend Melissa Melnick fell in the waters of the Mississippi River and has not being found. The Minneapolis PD, the Park police are giving the run around to Chris’ mother transferring her from one place to another or hanging up on her. This is a mother trying to find her son, a young man that also cared so much about a better Minneapolis. Who showed up for other people, immigrants, Black Lives, water, poor and displaced people. A young man that was waking up to a world that he understood he had to fight for if he wanted his generations to enjoy. The community that love and care for Reverend Melnick and her family are deeply saddened and praying hard so that Chris can be found. What much more inhumane than denying a mother updates about her son? Please, #findChris

At the same time, there were some people from Water Patrol from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office that decided to intervene, even though this case is not in their control, to figure out who it was that needed to be speaking to me. And a kind person from Dispatch called me. And so many friends called. The Mayor of Minneapolis intervened and my Council Member Lisa Bender called me. And other lifelong friends made contacts with people they know. And my sister contacted the press. And then authorities started paying attention and communicating.

Chris and I both care a lot about justice and equity. I am very aware, and Chris would be, too, that many people are treated this way. And usually it’s just one or two people that are the gatekeepers or the “bad apple” as they like to say. The difference is, and here is one thing about privilege, that we were heard and seen. There are lots of families out there with a loved one who is missing and unanswered questions. And they might not have access like we do. So I stand beside those whose voices are not being heard and I ask you to hear them. The vast majority of the law enforcement working with us do their job and do it well every day. I plead with those who aren’t seeing or hearing the very real people missing their loved ones and who don’t have answers to open their hearts so they can see and hear the beloved family and friends of others who are missing, whether they’re “good kids” like mine or those who might struggle in some other ways. And thank you for advocating for Chris. Thank you for seeing him and for hearing me.

My family has seen some hateful and judgmental things about Chris. Just know that Chris is well-loved. I don’t care about the trolls. I pray for them. I pray they will have peace and compassion in their hearts. Please just keep love in your heart. Chris is a human being. Sinner and saint. Beloved.

Today I will go to the river to pray and some others will accompany me.

Tomorrow I will go to be with my Tapestry community at church. But tomorrow I go as a mother who happens to be a pastor instead of a pastor who happens to be a mother. Others will lead. Maybe tomorrow will be filled with joy because my baby has been found safe and sound. And maybe not.

I’m sure people are getting really tired of my frequent and sorrowful posts. Some probably would even prefer I return to my frequent political posts and arguments. And that’s okay. I’m tired of all of this, too. Take a rest. Refresh. Do the things you love to do. Say a prayer for us sometimes. Look at the river and enjoy its magnificent beauty and respect its power.

For my friends and family far away, in other cities and other countries, I hear your anguish, too, in your prayers, calls, posts, messages. Please know that I find so much comfort and strength in knowing you are praying for Chris around the world.

Know that God is with us and God is with you. Chris is a child of God and God is taking care of him. Austin, too. Their dad, too. Me, too. And you, too, my dear friend who is reading this. Peace.

So we did…and people showed up…

At different times in the course of this ministry, I’ve wondered where the Spirit is leading. There have been times when I’ve been ready to hang it all up. I’ve argued with God about this over the last couple of years. So when we began 2017, I felt like I was a little without footing. We took the month of January off of worship to do some strategic and financial planning, some paperwork, and to pray about where the Spirit was leading us.

And then February happened. I thought no one would show up for worship. And we are still usually small at our Sunday worship, but people do come and worship together. And then my colleague Joanna brought a few people from Shepherd of the Hills, one of our partner congregations, to learn to cook a Mexican dish with Martha and to worship with us and to eat afterword.

SOTH Collage

Martha asked me about how many people I thought we would be. I said I thought there would be about 10 of us. Well, it turns out there were about 20 of us! And somehow we had enough food! And we had a great time worshiping and talking to each other over our meal after dinner. And people had conversations with people who they hadn’t met before and they learned a few words in English and Spanish and we sang and prayed and laughed together.

And then we started Spanish and ESL classes. I’ve been thinking about doing this since we began, and finally felt it was time. It was Tuesdays and Thursdays during Lent so I thought maybe no one would show up. But people did! And they enjoyed themselves and they asked to learn more!

I said, “Sure. Let me look for funding and teachers and get prepared and we’ll start again in the fall.” And the people said, “No! We want to start again right away!”

ESL Spanish collageSo we did. We have classes just Tuesdays now through March and each class includes a time where Spanish and ESL students come together to learn a song and to do an interactive activity with each other. We’ve learned to cook and we continue to build relationships with people who are different from us. To me, this seems like an extension of our worshiping community because we learn, sing, eat and share in fellowship with each other in English and Spanish. Oak Grove, one of our our partner congregations and host, has provided amazing support for these classes and in so many ways and we are blessed to be in ministry with them!

Spanish & ESL Collage 2

 

And we decided to march with palms and sing outside for the first time and we hosted our first Easter worship with fabulous music, Scripture and prayer and the Meal Jesus gave us and a dinner with ham, memelas, gelatina, salad, wonderful conversation and even birthday cake for Martha! And people showed up! Even people we haven’t seen since we moved to our new place, old friends, and even someone who had received an invitation from us when we went to invite people at the HUB showed up!

Palm Sunday collage

Palm Sunday/Domingo de ramos

Eating Easter Dinner

Eating Easter Dinner!                           Comiendo la Cena de Pascua!

 

 

 

Easter dinner

 

And then Crossroads…the people who were displaced continue to work for justice, not only for themselves but for others. And they’ve made a difference. They’ve affected housing laws around the country because of their work with a class action lawsuit. They’ve contributed to a documentary that TPT has put together. We saw it last Friday and it will be available for distribution soon! (Let me know if you’d like to arrange a screening and a panel discussion).

And because of their hard work and some new people involved in advocating for and with people in Richfield, AEON, a housing non-profit, was able to purchase a housing complex in Richfield that was going to be sold to maybe the same developer who so callously displaced thousands of people from Crossroads and affordable housing will be maintained in Richfield!

Check out this notice from Richfield City Leaders: Housing News! And consider attending Tuesday’s session!

And we have 13 partner congregations and others who support us in ministry and through prayer. And people keep showing up. And I don’t always understand it. And I still sometimes argue with God about this. But people keep showing up and God keeps providing.

Peace.