Kate graduated early from Gordon College and currently works writing children's stories in India. She blogs at http://katedanahy.blogspot.com/, and you should definitely check it out. In her own words, she's "a globe-trotting, people-loving introvert with a heart in India, an obsession with Russian literature and Shakespeare, and an addiction to tea."
Sidenote: I came up with the title. The second you say dissolve, I think CHEMISTRY. #Sorrynotsorry. :D
It's easy to have an opinion about a people group or an ideology or a religion--be it gays, socialists, or Muslims--an opinion that's engraved in a marble wall, definite and sure, black and white, true.
And then the girl whose testimony inspires you, the girl whose love for Jesus paints everything she does and even convicts you sometimes, the girl whose words about trusting God in the midst of addiction are a lifeline you hold to in a dark moment when, for the first time in years, you find yourself spiraling down into the prison of cutting that used to shackle you--when that girl comes out as a lesbian, the black and white pool together, creating gray.
And when you travel to India, you meet the woman whose name you can't remember, the woman with her hair wrapped in a black scarf who is headmistress of a Muslim school, the woman who, if any girl drops out to get married young, tracks the family down, takes the girls back to finish their education. Her fervor for social justice, for feminism even, surpasses many Christians.
You call other Muslim lady who makes you tea every day, sweetened with sugar and spiced with cardamom, who calls you "Katie," and giggles at everything, your friend.
And as your political ideology shifts dramatically left, you're never able to demonize those who believe what you used to, because for so long that was your tribe, people you love, and you know that as much as people who hold your current beliefs sometimes scoff at them, and as strongly as you disagree, Republicans and right-wingers can't be classified as ignorant, or heartless. One of your best friends, who comforted you with dark chocolate and coconut in a personal crisis, is a Republican. The people who nurtured you in childhood, who still feed your spirit weekly and daily, are right-wingers, and they love Jesus just as much as you do.
And the wall dissolves completely.
It's so easy to keep the lines of black and white nice and neat when you don't know people.
But when you reach across, when you shake their hand instead of keeping yours sanitized and dangling by your side, you find that the hand of one you thought Different is made of skin and bone and veins just like yours.
It's so, so easy to crouch behind those stones, refusing to look up and meet their eyes, to really see them, when you don't understand them, when you're afraid of the "Other" and what it might mean for the nice, neat stones you've built into a wall around yourself. But the reality is, the idea of the "other" is unloving, a clanging cymbal blooming from fear, decaying and taking you with it.
When you let go of your assumptions and have tea together, your opinions--all those stones you carefully arranged into a perfectly neat wall--will crumble, and it might be scary. But it will also set you free. The truth does that, after all.
And then a kind of agape love is born, because you truly understand you aren't better than anyone, and together--even if you disagree on religion or politics or whatever--you can break down more walls, work for understanding and dialogue, even (as cliche and hippy-ish as it sounds), for love.