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“Until the killing of black men, black mother’s sons

is as important as the killing of white men, white mother’s sons,

we who believe in freedom cannot rest.”

– Bernice Johnson Reagon in honor of Ella Baker

The last sermon I heard at Wild Goose evoked these words from a beloved Sweet Honey in the Rock Song, words penned in honor of the civil rights activist Ella Baker. Though the song is decades old now it certainly seems as though it could have been penned today. Jim Wallis suggests that racism and white privilege is America’s original sin, and thus, sadly, it seems that these words could have been penned at any moment in American history.

These were interesting words with which to sit while on an extended vacation– taking rest.  I appreciated reading our co-moderator’s post upon her re-entry from a lovely vacation– Everybody should get this.  Indeed.

But, as she acknowledges, not everybody gets this.  In particular, people of color need to maintain constant vigilance– a vigilance that is the opposite of rest.  Part of my privilege is being able check out… for an hour, a day, a week, a month… years.  Because still, for too many, the killing of black men (and women and boys and girls and those of other colors and those who are queer…) is not as important is the killing of white men, white mother’s sons.  And still we are not free.  None of us.

The friend I made in the red tent indicated that she went to Wild Goose seeking her Jubilee.  She has been in the struggle for racial justice and reconciliation for 50 years and it seems high time that God grant her a year of rest.  But as we gathered we were getting the news out of Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas. While together we heard witness to the ways in which mass incarceration is functioning as the new Jim Crow.  How can she rest?

She suggested she found some Jubilee in meeting me.  And I take from that a charge to be more intentionally vigilant much more of the time, to work on waking up the congregation I serve to the privilege we possess.  There is nothing wrong with regular sabbath rest– there is nothing wrong with vacation. Indeed, as God commanded, EVERYBODY should get this. But being lulled into the complacency afforded by my privilege, while others are keeping watch with bloodshot eyes lest they or their children be killed, this is not an option.   And I want my friend to have her Jubilee, and all my friends, to have their Jubilee. I think I’m ready to get back to work…

I returned to my tent after 11 pm satisfied after hearing Dar Williams sing “Family” (among other things) and the Indigo Girls sing “Love’s Recovery” (among other things). I also returned to my tent regretting my choice to skip the shower lines the past few days, my skin gritty with three days sweat, bug spray, sunscreen, rain, and good ol’ dirt. I returned to my tent to find my beloveds sleeping soundly, C having declared she has excellent ears and would enjoy the rest of the concert from her sleeping bag. I am lying in my tent listening to lusty hymn singing for the third time today. I can also hear a band playing a bit further away. And the frogs and insects. And the quiet murmuring of neighbors. And raucous laughter further away.

It has been a day in which I have been invited to think, a lot, about mass incarceration and death row. A day on which I have been encouraged to participate in democracy and build community by positive proximity in order to make more broad based democratic participation possible. A day on which I was made a judge at a story slam. A day on which I shared my fertility story with a woman in her own struggle. A day which began with me sitting in an honest circle. A day on which Caroline said goodbye to a fast friend made here.

I’ll have to make something of all the notes taken. I have a week of rest ahead in which i can do so. Or maybe I’ll assemble the puzzle purchased in Richmond or color in the coloring book Caroline urged me to purchase for myself. Or talk it all through with beloved ones who join us. Or read, read, read. Or sleep. Or hike. Or all of the above.

Ah, vacation.

We’ll be back Wild Goose. For sure. Bringing a hammock next time. And my sister— who turned 37 today and TOTALLY should have been at my side tonight.

I rose with the sun after a fitful night of sleep. My intention had been to make it to yoga at 7:30 if awake in ample time. I surely was. But the headache that had been a contributing factor to my fitful night led me to request a massage from Kev. And between that time and time to trek to bathroom and eat breakfast, I made it to the practice tent with just moments to spare. Lots of people headed to the same space had mats slung over their shoulders, and my mat is propped against a wall in Indiana. I wondered if I’d have to turn around without yoga. When I got there it first seemed that would be the case. But the teacher said, mere moments after I arrived, that there was one more mat available and onto that mat I slipped for a sublime hour of practice.

A few hours later I approached a story telling workshop where I found precisely one chair available. I claimed it. But Kev and C, whom i had expected to meet there, were nowhere to be seen and I anxiously set off to find them. When I returned my seat was full. I took a seat on the ground. But moments later its occupant turned around and indicated her intention had been to give me the chair back the moment I arrived. The woman sitting next to me had told her the seat was claimed. I thanked her and reclaimed the seat.

In the afternoon, I went to the red tent for women and girls story time. I took Caroline and her new friend Sophia. I stayed in this tent for 2 hours, the girls moved on with Sophia’s mom after an hour. The longer I stayed, the more meaningful the conversation grew. The most powerful moment came when I discovered that an older African American woman in the tent had spent several of her childhood years in my precise neighborhood in my hometown. Her family was the first black family in the neighborhood. I grew up in a fairly integrated neighborhood. Two other people in the tent also had connections to my hometown, but this connection was the most powerful. I saw her later and told her how much it meant to me to meet her. She concurred. She can’t wait to call her mom and tell her all the hell they went through in my hometown was worth it. She met a decent human being who gets it, from her very neighborhood! (I’m touched she so perceives me.)

I heard and learned many powerful things today, but these experiences of fitting… Connecting. They were what marked the day as holy for me.image

The skies opened and a rush of rain brought uncontrollable laughter to my seven year old. We fumbled with our new ponchos, were already soaked by the time we got them on. We retreated to our tent. Stripped off our wet belongings and retrieved the keys for Kev to use to gather towels from the car parked at some distance away.

Flashes of light, followed by rolling rumbles, trigger whimpering, and the occasional shriek from the child. Snuggles and reassurances, “Raindrops on roses…”, Harry Potter Book 7… tapping of rain on tent top… As the rain slowed the insects and frogs started their symphony.

Now sound is layered… The natural symphony, my beloved impersonating Delores Umbridge, Matt Maher singing of saints marching in, and still the gentle tap of dripping water.

On habits

We are en route to Hot Springs, NC for this fabulous festival.  It is highly likely I’ll be without phone and Internet for much of next 10 days. After the festival we head to a mountain cabin for a week…

I’ve made a point of blogging every day for the last few weeks because I’m trying to re-establish the habit. I may write posts in Evernote or longhand and post later just to keep the habit formation underway.

But these 10 days, if challenging to my blogging and cross fitting habits, are a good chance to disconnect from the habit of constantly being connected. And this is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

The above art was made from Legos. Just a few of the amazing Lego creations now on display at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond.

Last night my daughter disappeared into a friend’s room upon hearing she’s find Star Wars Legos there. Her friend shares that he’d play with Legos all day every day if he could.

It’s truly wondrous what some people can do with these tiny bricks. It is equally wondrous how absorbing play with them can be for children.

Between these encounters with Legos and a few days of reconnecting with various friends, family members, and places part of earlier seasons in our life, I’m thinking about all the thousands of parts and pieces that combine to make a wondrous life well-lived. Each relationship, each experience, each landscape and constructed space, each taste, each sound, each smell… Each and every moment it’s own colorful brick that clicks together with the others towards a more glorious whole.

I especially like the black and white piece above… Thousand of pieces assembled to represent the dispersal of numerous seeds… To yield ever more seeds… New life that comes from letting go.

This is our first trip back to Richmond since moving away 2 years ago. We let go of the many little parts and pieces that together built a beautiful year for us here. In these two days we’ve picked up several of those gorgeous bricks again and appreciated them, knowing that they are not lost, even if we have for the most part let them go. New life springs forth yet.

 

imageDid you know that one can theoretically cook a chicken in a backpack?

Such are the things one learns with much laughter and wide raging perspectives thereupon when reconnecting with marvelous friends made at Wednesday night church suppers during the one year we lived in the capital of this commonwealth. The conversation meanders and talk about your next, camping, stop on vacation turns to food plans…

We are so ridiculously blessed.

Photo Credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/9254684@N05/27763302666/”>Deetrak</a&gt; via <a href=”http://compfight.com”>Compfight</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

 

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