In the Lectionary

March 22, Lent 4A (John 9:1–41)

Keep going, says John.

I saw Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun last summer, a production that the New York Times claimed burned “with new fire.” Under the direction of Robert O’Hara, it certainly did. Just remembering some of the most powerful moments raises bumps on my skin and brings tears to my eyes. Although, as it is a favorite play of mine, I’d have been satisfied with the same old burning.

One thing I love about it is its look to the future, its focus on the coming generations. The family at the center of the play is even named the Youngers, three generations all living together in a cramped, worn apartment that they keep dignified against increasing odds. As a family of Youngers, they are literally concerned with the younger ones to come, each generation of racial progress one step further along a path that offers little cause for optimism but that is imperative to travel, fueled by outrageous hope (equal parts outrage and hope). Those of the oldest generation aren’t living for themselves; they’re living for the grandson who sleeps on the couch, or even for the generations yet unborn.

These Youngers were a heartbreaking thrill to spend time among once again, especially because we as a larger society seem crippled by future shock. We are, by and large, terribly loosed from any sense of responsibility for the generations to come. We are enticed by nostalgia—a stoking of desire for a past that never was, or at least not something many people among us would have any interest in returning to.