Author: Kevin Bryce

Two Trials, Two Tombs

Like many Americans I followed the high-profile trial from the opening statements through the historic
verdict. There were certainly many hopes and fears riding on it that were far greater than the
specific incident, decedent, or defendant. George Floyd’s death flashed into global consciousness
as a symbol, not as an incident. His tomb represents everything that Africans have endured in
America for the last 400 years.

The trial in its entirety was live-streamed, an unheard of level of transparency. I tried to
judiciously follow updates and not get too caught up. It was still, after all, Great Lent and we
continue to move toward the annual commemoration of a very different kind of trial—the trial of
the wholly innocent Son of God who takes away the sin of the world. This involves a wholly
different type of symbolism—the symbolism that allows us to speak in earthy language about
heavenly realities.

But back in America—Listening to the various defense arguments and lines of reasoning,
something struck me the other day. It’s as if the subtext of those arguments was that there is a
certain amount of abuse that a [Black] man should be able to take, and if he can’t take it, then it’s
his fault! A man should be able to handle lying prone, restrained, and under compression for an
indefinite period of time and if he can’t, well, he failed. So I go on record saying I completely
object to that valuation of human life. God didn’t create us for abuse. A man is not obligated to
be able to withstand a certain amount of it. Neither is any woman obligated to withstand a certain
amount of abuse lest it be her own fault that she is harmed. No children are obligated to
withstand a certain amount of abuse lest it be their own fault that they suffered harm. Each
person has their own threshold of experiencing harm in a given situation and we are all different.
We are rather obligated as Christians to respect the image of Christ in one another and to let that
steer our interactions.

There are martyric situations in which Christians have had to endure hellish torments without
betraying their faith or their fellow Christians. Some of those were helped by the grace of the
Holy Spirit to overcome and have been canonized as saints. Others fell through human
limitation. Being interrogated for 13 days and nights without respite or sleep, until in a
psychotically disoriented state, one might say or sign anything but for the grace of God. That
happened in the Soviet prisons. I pray that I, that we, may never face such a situation! As we
move toward the annual commemoration of Golgotha, let us continue to pray for the world. Let
us continue to pray moving forward from verdict to next steps that God’s will may be
done. Without the grace of God, how can anyone act with truth and honor? It is our vocation as
Christians, not to be bystanders or voyeurs, but to actively bring grace to difficult situations. In
this sense we approach both tombs with the myrrh of our prayers.

-Nun Katherine Weston