Bearing Witness

As I, a bedraggled looking old white man
ran my errands
in a predominantly black part of town.

I saw two people,
an older black man in a nice suit
and a plainly dressed black woman
standing next to
the tract rack that read
“What the Bible Really Says”.

I thought of my friend,
a black minister
putting on her shirt and collar,
the belt of truth
and the breastplate of righteousness
and pausing to think
of the martyrs
past and present.

“What the Bible Really Says”
I thought about how God loves me
more than I can understand
How God loves this couple
more than I can understand.
I thought of the commandment
Love your neighbor as yourself,
no matter what their skin color
no matter how different they are from you.

So I looked around
to make sure there wasn’t a pickup truck
nearby
with a Confederate flag
and I walked over to them,
shook their hands,
thanked them for bearing witness,
and told them what they already knew.

God loves them, loves all of us,
more than we can understand.

Tired

Another late evening. At least tomorrow, I can rest some. I have much to write, and a few blog posts and poems in various phases of construction, but none far enough to be added to the blog, so this will be my very brief post for tonight.

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#CharlestonShooting and the War on Christianity

It is late in the evening, and I am bone tired. This has been my third evening out late. Last night, while I was at Church for prayer and a vestry meeting, nine of my brothers and sisters were killed in a church in South Carolina. When I learned about the shooting, I wept and prayed.

It was a busy day for me at work today, as the health center I worked at held its tenth annual Weitzman Symposium. During brief breaks, I found moments to glance and the news and offer up more prayers.

In the evening, I went to the commencement of the 2015 class of Health Leadership Fellows from the CT Health Foundation. This is a program aimed at address racial and ethnic health disparities. Some of my closest friends from the fellowship were not there and I wondered if they were at prayer vigils.

Now, I’m finally home, and trying to wrap my head around what has happened. I read stories about people trying to avoid talking about racism in the shooting by a white supremacist of nine brothers and sisters at a church. They prefer to call it an attack on Christianity. They are half right. The White Supremacist movement is an attack on Christianity.

Rachel Dolezal Rorschach

I’ve been struck by the reactions to Rachel Dolezal I’m coming across online. Just a few of them include things like

I think she is a narcissistic asshole.
She is a liar, a fraud.
She is raising important issues about the definition of race.
She is racing important issues about identity
She is the result of a messed up childhood.

I remember years ago when I worked for a large international bank. I hired a management consultant to help navigate the tricky waters. In one meeting, she suggested being aware of how people react to you, is, at least in part, a result of who they are, instead of who I am.

“Imagine yourself surrounded by a big silver ball”, she suggested. “What is coming at you is often a reflection of the others. Just let it reflect back.”

So, I thought about Rachel Dolezal. Is she a giant Rorschach test? Are the people calling her a “narcissistic asshole” really making a comment about themselves? What about those calling her a liar or fraud?

To me, I like exploring issues around identity or the definition of race and I see that aspect of her. I don’t tend to think of my childhood as being as messed up as it seems hers was, but I ran into my share of dysfunction during my childhood.

As I try to make sense of all of this, let me offer this poem:

For Rachel

“You’re not really black.
Your biological father was white.
You haven’t suffered like black people have.”

She put down her copy
of the National Committee of Negro Churchmen’s
“Black Power Statement”

“My Father is Black”, she replied
“His Son suffered more than any of us can imagine
so that we could be brothers and sisters.”

Mind Dump

It is late and I’ve only recently gotten home, wolfed down some food at sat down to read and write. There so much to write about, yet it’s late.

Today was Bloomsday. I shared a few tweets about the day, but didn’t get to focus on it as much as I would like. I am busy preparing for the (Virtual)Weitzman Symposium that will take place at work this Thursday. I’m really looking forward to it, but I’m also really looking forward to it being over.

This evening, I had a commission meeting about Government Access Television. Tomorrow evening, I’ll have a Vestry meeting. Thursday, after the symposium, I will head to the commencement for this year’s CT Health Foundation Health Leadership Fellow. Then, Friday evening, will be an end of the school year party.

Somewhere in all of this, I will try to keep my discussions online vibrant, write my blog posts, spend time in contemplation, and of course go through the daily tasks.

There is so much to write about. Now, I’ll head off to bed late and rise up early for another very busy day.

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