Pause for Celebration
Every now and then I realize that as much as I teach, train, and quite frankly bemoan how far we have yet to go in racial justice (let alone racial reconciliation), sometimes my pendulum swings a little far. Doing this work comes with great sacrifice, and those sacrifices are easy to name. In fact they must be named for the sake of our health. There are so many wounds that must be healed, confessions that must be released, disappointments that must be swallowed, hope that must be found. I think I do a disservice to this work when I am not honest about what it takes, what it risks, what it means. And yet.
And yet, there are so many reasons why I find this work incredibly fulfilling.
I have some of the most amazing cross-cultural relationships a girl could ask for in this world. I have friends who come alongside me when I am hurt and wounded and tired and overwhelmed. I have friends who know intimately the experiences I describe, who give voice like prose and poetry when they say, "I understand." They validate my experiences with their own scars and let me rest in their arms. I have friends who get angry before I've even realized I've been cut. Friends who cut off the crazy at the pass when I am too tired to respond. Friends who let me take a break, not because they love me, but because they are just as passionate as I am- if I left this earth, their work would continue. Friends who use their power, their influence, their voice. Friends who would let me sleep on their couch. I have friends who make space for my own learning, growth, mistakes. I have friends with whom I don't have to hide. Don't have to leave half myself at the door. They would never allow it. If I actively tried not to talk about how it feels to colored today, the door would be locked until I talked. If I tried to avoid talking about my womanhood, they would bribe me with chocolate shakes or french fries or cheesecake until I said whats on my heart. I have friends with whom I don't have to hide or edit or sugarcoat anything.
And I have experienced the most incredible worship. Sometimes it is hundreds of people singing in Mandarin and Spanish and English. Sometimes it is 5 women sitting in a circle giving voice to our diversity, our stories, our experience of America, of Christianity. Sometimes it is hearing the voices of "every nation and every tongue" rise in spontaneous prayer across a sanctuary. Sometimes it is one voice in Spanish, my own in English but united in the Spirit. Sometimes it is coffee dates and more cheesecake as I seek to grow in my own understanding of the experiences of other minorities. It is the grace that I receive when I am completely ignorant. It is the trust we share.
And I have been on the front lines with the most incredible people. I have learned at their feet. Internalized their passions. Been inspired by their lives. Been challenged by their words. I have been protected in their communities, welcomed by their families, considered life-long friends. I have learned about history, given a new appreciation for politics, connected the dots around similar issues. My life has been impacted by kids and adults, students and teachers, lawyers and the incarcerated, social service workers and those experiencing homelessness, kids in foster care and directors of group homes, the hungry and the wealthy- my world is better because of them all. City or suburbs, even the rural appalachian mountains have widen my lens of my concept of justice.
This work comes at a cost, but I experience life fully. I am not immune to pain but I appreciate healing- I display my scars proudly. I earned them. The disappointments come, but so does change- small wins, over time- lives changed. I have experienced great joy in this work. I have watched women find their voices, come alive, speak truth with grace and wisdom and depth and per-son-al-it-y! I have watched young men alter their educational careers and vocations to be fully devoted to this work. I have experienced the sacrifices of others. I have watched resistance melt into acceptance and become the fire that lights a new path. I have seen guilt and shame morph into anger and passion for making America better. I sometimes witness the ugliness of humanity, but I've also experienced its wondrous beauty.
So, today, I celebrate.