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BY REVEREND KACI CLARK-PORTER

February 7, 2019
11-year-old Joshua Trump naps at the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Via the Daily Beast: "Joshua Trump—the kid invited to the president’s State of the Union address after he was allegedly bullied at school because of his famous last name—has won fans after falling asleep during the President’s speech. Joshua, a 6th grader from Wilmington, DE [my town!] has been hailed as a secret hero of the anti-Trump movement, with a photo of him sleeping being shared with captions such as 'the only good Trump,' 'welcome to the resistance,' and 'everybody needs a little executive time.' Joshua’s parents said his classmates had called him an 'idiot' and 'stupid' for sharing the president’s last name—but after his nap in the spotlight, he may be one of the most popular kids in the country."

The idiom “suffer fools gladly” comes from this verse in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth (which Trump once called “Two Corinthians”): “For you gladly put up with fools since you are so wise yourselves!” – 2 Corinthians 11:19 (NRSV)
 
“When you are disturbed, do not sin. Ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah.” – Psalm 4:4
Children do NOT suffer fools—gladly, or otherwise! Joshua Trump reminds me of a boy in my congregation just a little younger than dear Joshua who on Sunday, after hearing the first line of the Charge and Benediction (“…and now the service begins!”), looked up from his doodling in horror at the thought of having to endure another hour of sacred ritual!
 
Let’s not kid ourselves, most church services aren’t designed to engage young participants. So why are we amazed when children openly opine that they’re long, boring, and out-of-touch? And the same is true for the SOTU, which is dullsville at best, even if you’re well beyond 11-years old.
 
Expecting a 6th grader to engage a lengthy speech that doesn’t even start until 9:00pm and has absolutely nothing to do with anything he cares about is ridiculous. Joshua’s parents told reporters that he hates his name, is sad all the time, and asked to be home-schooled to avoid being bullied. Joshua cares about being liked for who he is: having fun, being valued, and just being a regular preteen! I doubt he cares much about politics. Lord knows I didn’t when I was his age. However, this youthful hero’s very human behavior radiates wisdom for those of us in the resistance movement.
 
  1. We all need rest.  Not only does Psalm 4 provide us with biblical evidence of the benefits of napping, it also includes that elusive word “Selah”, which means everything from “rest”, “stop, and listen”, to a pause that prepares us for the next verse. That’ll preach!
  2. There is wisdom in the “Selah”: by shutting out speech (pundits, reporters, politicians, Twitter, our own voices) we allow the Spirit to rally our words and reactions in stillness.
  3. Lastly, sometimes our sacred rituals and speech-making take up too much space in our idea of “important work.” May we take seriously the idea that our service truly begins with living into our full humanity, and sometimes that mean simply, to rest.
One of my very favorite people, who happens to be a great theologian, Michael Jinkins wrote that “Jesus didn’t go through all the trouble of becoming human—much less being crucified—to make us religious. God became human to make human beings out of us.”
 
May we remember, today and always, that that is our greatest calling.

Take a nap. Walk a labyrinth. Get on the floor and color with a child. Turn off the news. Relish in your humanity. As Audre Lorde once said, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

 Someone I loved once gave me

a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand

that this, too, was a gift.” 

- Mary Oliver

 

May God renew our minds as we rest, helping us understand what to do when our eyes open and our feet hit the floor and the smell of coffee reminds us the promises of the day to come. Amen. 

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