Sunday, January 19, 2020
As you read this, know that I am sitting in the pews of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the home church of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama.
I’m on an eleven day Global Social Justice Dismantling Racism in the American South course with eighteen St. Catherine University students and my Theology department colleague. Preparing the students and myself for this journey is fueled by Dr. King’s understanding of the “fierce urgency of now” he spoke of in the 1963 March on Washington. He reminded a divided nation that we need one another and that we are stronger when we march forward, together. Today, 57 years later, the urgency of now is just as fierce.
I am healed. I am anxious. I am afraid. I am hopeful.
I am healed because as a young girl who drank from the “colored” water fountain that separated people based on our limited understanding of who we are, I no longer need to drink from that fountain. Those experiences did not diminish the reality that I am, and always will be: a beloved child of God.
I am anxious because I feel the weight of being available to our dear students as they experience the intensity of the trauma of oppression and hatred that some have only read about in their assignments. I want to ensure they understand that because of our differences in religion and ethnicities, their experiences matter and we welcome and need the sharing of their sacred stories.
I am afraid because we are journeying together in spaces that may be unsafe for the four Muslim young women in our community. We use our breath to ground ourselves to the earth, to each other, and to God. We created a community covenant that binds us in relationship with each other in respectful, loving ways. And of course, I will continue to ask how they feel the presence of God – in their bodies, minds and hearts. We are not alone.
I am hopeful because I know we will all be transformed by this journey – as individuals and as a community. As I sit in this sacred space, I imagine Dr. King at the pulpit preaching: I still believe! I still believe! I still believe that we shall overcome.