walking in Memphis

Sometimes I don’t know what to say. And I think that’s OK. I think there are seasons for everything… days for everything… moments, no doubt, also for everything. 

If I’m honest, sometimes I don’t know what to say, but I still say things. And it’s usually then that I say or do things that may not be my wisest. Understandable, almost always. But still, not my wisest.

Like many, I found myself this weekend, watching the video footage that showed the beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. If you haven’t watched it already, be careful when you do.

If you have watched some of it, you know perhaps the heart from where my words this day come from. Sobering, to say the least.

It’s awful.

I know I wasn’t there. I know my perspective is limited. It’s still awful.

Nichols, a 29 year old black man, was stopped for reported reckless driving. After initial interaction with police, he attempted to flee on foot. He was then quickly apprehended. And then treated horrendously. Five black, male officers were directly involved. As I heard one law professor say to the BBC, “It was incomprehensible — from beginning to end”… “Inhumanity,” it was labeled by a writer for The Atlantic.

Let me by no means suggest a divine nature, but the thought of how Jesus was treated, is the only thing that came close to me… A grown man. Cursed at. Mocked. Beaten mercilessly. Nichols would die 3 days later.

So I find myself sitting here as a blogger today, trying to put words to something that I cannot.

I think that’s why we sometimes see the destructive protests in response. I speak of the violent ones — not the peaceful ones that Dr. King so consistently and eloquently encouraged. This idea that it’s ok to lash out, be violent in response, is injudicious; it gets in the way, providing the fodder of more people to look down upon.

But my strong sense is that many of those people don’t know what to say either.

So I scratched my original plans for our blog post today. It was a rather clever attempt to observe the leadership we see in the four quarterbacks still taking the field today in the remaining NFL games.

But I recognize, as much as it’s difficult for many to see, football is just a game. As much money as we like to throw at it, it’s still a game.

What happened in Memphis matters more. That’s been evident in all the athletes who’ve paused in our national heartache. Said Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins Friday night, “The senseless loss of life for Tyre Nichols has really hit us hard. It’s been tough being on the road, not being home. I wish I could extend my arms through this camera right now to the family. They’re going through a lot.”

As for what’s next, there will be investigation, recommended improvement, and justice to hopefully, quickly come. In the meantime, with all that we feel, may we recognize that our emotions still do not enable us to discern with certainty all that’s wrong with systems, states and society. We can’t. And that’s hard.

God be with Tyre’s family. Along with so very many in this country, I am deeply sorry. 

I pray for you.

I pray for your grieving heart today.

I pray for justice one day soon.

I have no other words.