Emanuel: God is with us
Emanuel: God is with us
Emanuel: God is with us

 Dear beloved human,

fall-in-the-valley

America is bleeding.

Deep, red, crimson blood. It’s dripping, splattering on the floorboards, staining the rug, and no one is coming to help clean it up.

I’m not a Democrat, I’m not a Republic: I’m a man who understands that minority groups are living in an unequal society; that jobs are disappearing; that party system has ostracized anyone who doesn’t agree; that sexual violence isn’t taken seriously; women’s bodies are an object to possess; that bigotry by some creates generalized responses; pain creates pain, which inflicts pain on another; that cycles repeat; racism is real; law enforcement is targeted; hate is glamorized, and that I don’t want to hate anyone.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

Compassionately Listening

I sat today in quiet rooms with white walls and plain ceilings, listening to pain expressed by women as a result of Tuesday’s election: real pain; deep, excruciating pain. This pain has been felt by many others in the past. It’s always been there, is always there, just not always expressed.

In South Dakota, I spoke with two native American men who revealed this same pain — who were crippled by this same pain. I’ve seen it on the faces of friends, family members, loved ones, and strangers; heard it through my wall, the couple arguing next door; and in the quavering voices of veterans wounded with hidden wounds; felt it in the shaking handshake of a Muslim immigrant, who is now scared to wear her hijab and express her culture.

I’ve seen that pain turned into a missile, a bullet, fired straight through the hearts of innocent black churchgoers in North Carolina; also in a Florida nightclub. Elsewhere, I’ve listened to political commentators tear apart that same pain, analyze it, try and make sense of it; then move callously on to the next story.

Pain begets pain.

A Need for Empathy

I understand. I understand because I listen — not to the commentators, not to the pain, but to those who are in pain. I feel because I listen, just listen. Most intimately, I’ve felt that pain myself; am feeling that pain currently. Not because of anything that has been inflicted on me, no, but because it’s been inflicted on others, and I’ve listened.

Then, in response to my opinions, formulated by listening to others, by introspection of my own thoughts, I received angry texts, bitter responses, ugly perspectives.

I am an American; I am wounded. I’m the one who is bleeding, but not my own blood — I’m bleeding the blood of others. And, I’ve realized, those who send the texts are also in pain. I’m also bleeding their pain.

It’s all become darkness. Shots ring out in the night, it’s the Civil War: American soldiers on both sides, climbing a small hill, shaking with fear; guns leveled. The darkness becomes bright, a cannon rockets out loud, spewing a great flame into the midst of flying bodies, of flying Americans. Now, I understand why that war happened; I understand that pain often creates anger, which can’t be reasoned with.

It’s not that war

Today isn’t that war: we’ve left that behind us. Therefore, in response to that which our fellow compatriots feel, we must respond in compassion.

For those who supported Donald Trump, for Republicans, be at peace; love first, love often, respond with tenderness to those who disagree; realize that you do not understand the perspective of others who don’t think like you do. Understand that people are really, genuinely hurting, and compassionately do something about it. See that Donald Trump’s comments inflicted gaping wounds on many of your brothers and sisters. Then, bridge the gap through communication, patient communication.

Clean up the blood, because only you can do that.

For those who supported Hillary Clinton, for Democrats: do not give up hope. Stand back up; but do not stand in anger. Realize that many who felt Trump was the best candidate didn’t have the same concerns that you have; had entirely different reasons for their decision: learn what those reasons are, and do not discount them. Listen, really listen to them. Then communicate also.

We are not defined as Democrats or Republicans. We are Americans; Native American, black, white, asian, latino, and every other ethnicity, gender and religion. We must unite, not in opinions, but in actions; that is the only way forward.

Tonight, I am praying for every single person who has responded to this election in anger; who has tasted bitterness and lashed out in malice; also for Donald Trump, for our future leader: that God reveals to him a path that leads to the Creator, which he can understand, and that he also tastes the sweetness of Grace, as I have tasted. I’m also praying for every man, woman and child who has, or currently is, feeling pain.

Press Onward

Do not give up hope; press forward; renew your strength; turn to the Provider of that strength, to Jesus, God-become-human; let humility wash over you, tumble you like rocks down a river of Grace, and then, in turn, pour Grace on others.

Truly, Emanuel: God-with-us. Now, in this desperate, painful time, God is with us.

If you need prayer: regardless of who you are, regardless of who you voted for, regardless of what you look like, regardless of what you’ve done, regardless of anything — ask.

I will pray for you.

Email me: andychristianart@gmail.com

In God’s eternal, unrequited, undeserving, sustaining Grace,
Your brother Andy Castillo

Your Uncle Patrick forwarded your piece tome via Facebook.

This is a powerful piece. The wisdom of listening with an open heart is such an overlooked and underrated human communication tool. I can see that it takes empathy more than curiosity, more unselfishness than ego, more interest than indifference to listen in this manner.
When I first read your essay I found it to be soothing and directive; however, after coming back to it a few times and rereading it, I found I had some work to do. It seems to me that your essay is a guide for the here and now based on the teachings of the ages. It is as soothing as originally gleaned on first read. It is an eye opener, a candle lit in murkiness and I thank you.
I am praying for you and thank you for your prayers.

I am praying for you.

Thank you for the sweet words, Marguerite. This nation is in a lot of pain right now. I’m praying for you as well, and for all who seek peace: us be lights in a dark place, shining as beacons of hope to all who desperately need solace. <3