Let it Begin with Me

Weekly Reflection, Friday, May 13

By: Cindy Blanton

I opted into the Lenten series “Let it Begin with Me” for two reasons. One was to connect with church members as I reconnect with the church as a whole. The second was to find others interested in exploring the impacts of racism in our society and what steps we can take to help. Then there was a bit of “I’ve got to see this because, really, what can a suburban white church group really do in the space of racism?”

Personally, I’m on a journey to understand racism but more specifically, its long-term impact on our society. I realized that when I have a visceral reaction to something, that’s a sign that I need to take a step back, investigate, and learn more so that I can change that reaction to a response that is grounded by information rather than a gut feeling. During the series, Harrison used Jesus outside the boat full of disciples as a metaphor for looking at something from a different perspective. I am looking at all that I have from a different perspective.

It’s easy to stick my head in the sand and say that since I’m not a racist, I can’t do anything to help the issues. Truth is that I must dig in and understand my part in continuing the status quo of a society that was built by white men perpetuating white European culture as the right way. I picked up a definition that shed light on the word racism. “Racism = Bigotry + Power.” Accepting that I have power simply because of my skin color has helped me acknowledge that by saying and doing nothing, I contribute to racism.

While I was struggling to understand the cry for “healing” the African American experience, I found this paragraph from Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans helpful: “The thing about healing, as opposed to curing, is that it is relational. It takes time. It is inefficient, like a meandering river. Rarely does healing follow a straight or well-lit path. Rarely does it conform to our expectations or resolve in a timely manner. Walking with someone through grief, or through the process of reconciliation, requires patience, presence, and a willingness to wander, to take the scenic route.”

As we understand more about racism, what it looks like, and its pervasive impacts, we can help each other simply by highlighting ways to reframe conversations. Rather than calling someone out, we can call them in. “You might not realize how I heard what you said” is a gentle way to reframe conversations and grow together. Words matter.

I’m following the advice that I hear every time I travel by airplane, “secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to help others.” I am committed to my own education and have an extensive reading list. Let it begin with accepting my role in racism so that I can effect change in my surroundings. Fortunately, I’ve found a community here at St Mary’s on the same journey.

A Note from David – Continuing the Conversation and Ministry

During this past season of Lent, a group of 20-25 parishioners met on Sunday afternoons for a Christian Formation offering called ‘Let it begin with me’. This program was offered as a Lenten discipline following the Ash Wednesday exhortation to prayer, study of the Holy Scriptures, and self-reflection as a means to engage a renewed call for racial justice in our nation. Each Sunday afternoon, a staff member offered a teaching based on Luke’s telling of the Temptations of Christ. Then participants broke into small groups for reflection and conversation.

Many of the participants wish to continue this work and ministry with the hope of contributing to the healing of our own hearts and the world in which we are called to serve and minister. If you would like to be a part of this on-going conversation and ministry, please be in touch with David May.