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I'll start by saying that I didn't want to write about Gaza this week. Not for Mother's Day. I had a whole essay planned, about the double bind of American motherhood, how we're always not enough and too much at the same time, and I planned on telling you about my 5 a.m. workouts and dairy-free diet after a traumatic emergency C-section, about how healing was secondary to losing the weight and getting back to work. About how I poured all my energy into being the paragon of white American Christian motherhood, all so I could pose in front of the photo backdrop at my Southern California megachurch, broad white smile, kids with combed hair and clean faces, finding a way to make money but not seem to "work," to be bold but submissive, strong but in constant need of male affirmation.

You could relate to that, right? I was going to include some Taylor Swift lyrics, too, because even if you don't like her, her boyfriend plays in the NFL — and everyone still cheers for football players and their blonde girlfriends, right?

I went to bed on Monday night, a notepad full of these ideas, feeling comforted by the headline I'd just seen on my phone, that Hamas had accepted a cease-fire proposal brokered by Egypt and Qatar, assumedly the same proposal that had been supported by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

I slept relatively peacefully in white poplin sheets, in my Midwestern American bed, waking just once for about an hour at 3 a.m., wondering if my son was sleeping OK away from home, on a one-night camp outing with his fifth-grade classmates.

I woke Tuesday morning to scenes of carnage, again, in Gaza, where Israel had plowed ahead with a bombing campaign in the southern city of Rafah, less than 2 miles from the Egyptian border. Rafah had already been the site of suffering and desperation, the place where thousands were turned away from relative safety in Egypt, where American sons pleaded with officials to let their Gazan mothers and fathers through the crossing, paying tens of thousands of dollars in bribes, only to be turned away, back to the bombs and death and destruction. On Tuesday, just hours after dropping leaflets ordering a mass evacuation of around 100,000 Palestinians, the Israeli bombs fell in Rafah.

While later Tuesday news reports indicated that the U.S. had paused its most-recent shipment of weapons to Israel, including controversial 2,000-pound bombs, according to the Washington Post, those munitions could still be delivered "depending on the White House's discretion." Republicans in Congress were already reacting angrily to any pause in supply of deadly weapons to Israel, with Rep. Russell Fry, R-S.C., telling reporters on Tuesday night that any delay was a "reprehensible" betrayal.

I am thinking here of the injustice of indiscriminate killing, and how our powerful weapons obliterate any sense of human dignity or sanctity of life, a championed cause of the Christian right, who has offered unremitting support to both the gun lobby and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Israeli government. It reminds me of how it feels every time I read about a school shooting, and I think of my second-grader and his friends cowering in the corner, as the bullets spray without warning, without direction, spewed by hatred.

The human mind was not meant to contemplate such mass death, especially not of children, and so often we must learn to open our hearts through stories, ones we can relate to, so far away and protected, we imagine, by our Ring doorbells and relative privilege.

The first stories we heard from Israel and Gaza were stories of Jewish suffering, reminiscent of the European pogroms incited by the same Christian nationalist rhetoric that now stands in support of the killing of civilians in Gaza. How easy it is to choose a side and close our eyes. Social media sorts us that way, nowadays. Answer a few demographic questions and the algorithm will tell you what to believe and whom to support, and then it will sell you flowery dresses on Amazon and trays for your kids to bring you brunch in bed on Mother's Day. Ask me how I know. I own those dresses and those trays.

About a month after the Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians on Oct. 7, 2023, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — both organizations and institutions that have been important in my life — released statements calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, but without requisite warnings against antisemitism and, specifically from the church, a confession of Christians' historic role in sanctioning antisemitism and violence against Jews. My children attend school with several Jewish classmates, who are among their closest friends, and I heard from friends of mine, Jewish parents in our schools, how scared and threatened their kids felt. I could see in their faces that sense of hopelessness and fear, what it looks like when the world does not seem to care about your suffering, that feeling that the majority group would rather you be erased. In response then, in my role as a parent and Lutheran clergy member, I spoke up in the news media about the need for further education and witness against antisemitism in our midst, and protection for Jewish children.

I write today from that same place of conviction, in the days leading up to Mother's Day of all days. For me this Mother's Day is a day of reckoning. I believe that we all face these moments, when we are confronted by a moral horror and our own small sense of complicity in it, as the bombs dropped in Gaza have been sanctioned by American political support of Israel, and funding by American dollars and military expertise, the whole machine of the war-industrial complex.

I saw again the videos of desperate women holding wounded and crying children, a vacant place behind their eyes: "Where can we go?" "Nowhere is safe." My mind takes me, almost unconsciously, to the words of the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah: "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." Ramah, likely referring to Er Ram north of Jerusalem, is about 70 miles from Rafah, about the same distance as Minneapolis to St. Cloud, or less than the distance from Philadelphia to New York.

Great distances, mass death, unquantifiable loss and human suffering: All of these can make it easier for us to swallow away those passing moments of conviction, when it becomes clear that we can no longer remain silent in the face of indiscriminate killing of children. See, the Mother's Day that I had planned involved a coffee granita and a lemon scone, and a hand-drawn card from an 8-year-old boy whom I love, who bears a Hebrew name of conquest. Instead on Tuesday morning I woke to a video from the rapper Macklemore: a protest song for peace in Gaza called "Hind's Hall," in support of the student protesters crying out for cease-fire and an end to American justification of right-wing Israeli vengeance and racism toward Palestinians.

I am 39 now, too old for the dormitory and perhaps quieted by my motherly pursuit of safety and security for my children first. Maybe you can relate to this. It is hard enough to protect our kids, how can we save the children of Gaza? Couldn't we keep scrolling, purchase our way out of suffering and death?

Macklemore wrote a lyric for us, though, on this Mother's Day that calls for solidarity and not submission or blind consumerism:

What you willin' to risk? What you willin' to give?

What if you were in Gaza? What if those were your kids?

If the West was pretendin' that you didn't exist

You'd want the world to stand up and the students finally did, let's get it

Macklemore was writing to us older millennials, when he reminds us that he was 7 when he first heard the hip-hop group N.W.A rap against police violence. I was 3, a suburban white toddler in the Midwest when that song first came out. Maybe I could claim my boys' protection because of their skin color, their relative affluence, their religion, their neighborhood. But the truth is that the devaluation of children's lives anywhere means the devaluation of children's lives everywhere. This Mother's Day: For those kids and for our kids, I don't want brunch. We need a cease-fire.

Angela Denker is the author of "Red State Christians: A Journey into White Christian Nationalism and the Wreckage it Leaves Behind," and is the pastor for visitation and public theology at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. Read more from Angela at her Substack: I'm Listening. Follow her on X: @angela_denker.