You may wish to see,listen.Hearing is a step toward vision.St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
|With fellow pilgrims from Western Mass in front of 16th St. Church|
Wales Window shown to the left was given by the people of Wales to the people of the 16th Street Baptist Church after the bombing, a meditation on the words of Christ in Matthew 25:40, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." The crucified figure, a black Christ, has his right hand pushing away against injustice while his left hand is open, offering forgiveness. A rainbow, representing diversity and God's promise, crowns the figure's head.
I think what I found so emotionally exhausting was in wanting to believe that even if we have not yet overcome, we'd like to believe we have come somewhere - somehow. And no doubt some gains have been made. But it was hard to be in this space today and not think of Ferguson, and of Charleston, and of the long litany of black lives that have been taken in just recent history.
I was also struck at how often in the museum we heard words about "outside agitators." In yesterday's post I referenced King's letter and in it he clearly speaks about that accusation but it didn't really click until today, in the Civil Rights Institute - that phrase came up again and again from whites who just wanted the Freedom Riders, people like Jon Daniels, King himself - to "go home." This was not their business, locals said. They were "outside agitators." I've been thinking all day about how ill, closed-in systems protect themselves -the same thing can happen in an abusive family (or congregation.) You say, "this is none of your business." But that is a terrible lie. Injustice is our business. We are our brother's and our sister's keeper.
Sharing a meal - trying new foods - changes us. See Isaiah 25:6 if you don't believe me, where the prophet says: "on this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine - the best of meats and the finest of wines." I love that! Goat is a very fine meat! It is no accident that these words come from a prophet who, in the very next verses speaks of the Lord wiping away tears and taking away people's disgrace from all the earth. Goat curry for everyone!
Tonight, after another long day, I give thanks for the life and witness of "Fess" Whatley and I pray that we might all find our own ways to make a difference. Whether it is cooking, or marching, or playing the sax - it's all of a piece. It's all about the full and abundant life that is intended for all God's children - not just some of them.