In her October reflection, Natalie reflects that being challenged to define right-relationship has strengthened her commitment to reconciliation. Enjoy her thoughts, and please share if you are inspired!
And the Lord said, “Will not God grant justice to God’s chosen ones who cry to God day and night? Will God delay long in helping them? I tell you, God will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
“How would you define right-relationship?” James’s question interrupted my well-planned presentation. My mind went blank and all the ‘correct’ answers faded away as I locked eyes with James McKim, a black leader in the Church’s work of reconciliation. My awareness of white supremacy, the authority I carried as the presenter, and the deeply complicated road we have to right-relationship overcame me. As a white woman, I felt inadequate to try and broach the subject of reconciliation with a black leader.
I ended up offering James a “good-enough” response. I said the life of Jesus of Nazareth shows us a model of right-relationship. The way he engaged with people, interpersonally and societally drew them into right-relationship with one another. When we follow his example we have hope of undoing the systems of inequity that separate us. However, I failed to speak directly to the racism, homophobia or misogyny that plague our society.
I left that presentation at Diocesan Resource Day feeling embarrassed. One of our team members, Jesse, noticed my embarrassment and asked me, “Do you want to practice talking about race?”
Yes, I responded. Yes, I want to practice because this is hard. I want to practice working cooperatively rather than enforcing authority, naming systems that hurt us and seeing people as partners rather than issues. I need to practice living this reconciled life that is inherently counter-cultural to the world in which we live. Yes, I want to practice.
To practice we must build communities in which can address racism, homophobia and misogyny openly. On October 8th, LDI began building this community by training twenty people to facilitate LDI’s introductory curriculum, which outlines the call to “be the Church” through joining in God’s ongoing movement towards reconciliation. At this workshop we discussed how reconciliation happens internally and externally - as we come to know ourselves as the beloved child of God we begin to see one another as God’s beloved and this compels us to change systems that deny the belovedness in one another.
This process is articulated in our Holy Scriptures. We hear about a God who continually is drawing back into right-relationship with God and with one-another. God’s persistence is illustrated in the story of the unjust judge in Luke 18 who finally grants the persistent widow justice - Jesus reminds his listeners that God will similarly grant justice to those God loves. As people of faith we work for justice knowing that God is working alongside us. But, at times, in a world ripe with racial division, it is hard to believe in this future promise of justice. That is why I am so grateful to all of you for being tangible reminders of God’s movement to reconciliation: for parishes with anti-oppression committees, activists who demonstrate against oppression, elders who share their wisdom, and priests on the front-lines of conversations about reparations. I need your example and companionship.
At the end of the Oct 8th training one participant described reconciliation as “a process creating deeper awareness and cultivation of authentic relationships of mutuality and equity, particularly in spaces that have been used for violence.” I left the training feeling abundantly grateful for all the communities of authentic relationship that support me to dismantle the violence of racism today. On November 12th LDI is expanding our community of reconciliation by offering our introductory curriculum to over 100 people at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Boston. Participants will explore the Church’s call to the work of reconciliation and learn how community organizing and contemplative practices enable us to join in God’s movement towards reconciliation in our own context. We hope that you’ll register here and join us.
If you cannot join us, we hope that you’ll consider making a $25 donation to support the event. LDI is offering the event as a free workshop in order to make this vital teaching accessible to as many as possible - $25 covers the cost of one participant. All of LDI’s donations go through our fiscal agent ECM - please ensure to write “LDI Call to Action” on your donation so that they are directed to LDI - you can donate here.
Thank you all for being with me as we move towards justice with God - may God grant us the grace to see where God is calling us and the courage to follow.
In the Blessing,