I’m devouring books these days like a famished soul that has been lost in a desert wilderness where the only possibility of quenching any thirst comes from the backlit text on my phone. Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her and Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark and Lauren Winner’s Still (a real book, not Kindle) and Amber Haines’ Wild in the Hollow. Books I started a while ago and need to finish, and all the latest – each one somehow about the rawness of being caught in the in-between, whether the middle or darkness, but it all feels like a homesickness and longing. So familiar.
Nobody ever wants to admit that his or her soul is feeling wasted and desolate. That faith feels like a no-man’s land or a ghost town with tumbleweeds rolling through like the cliche Western movie. That feeling or believing or trusting or following is clutching straws that are brittle and fall apart in your hands and slide through your fingers just when you think you have a grasp on something.
This is what theology looks like.
I keep hearing that chant – the call and response on the short Vine posted the day after the anniversary of Michael Brown’s killing. I see them standing huddled together heads down laying hands on each other like it’s an ordination – these demonstrators are being commissioned for something massively important as they shout #blacklivesmatter and #nojusticenopeace anointed with sweat and tears and blood and Spirit and set apart for a holy work in which liturgy is wailing and protest. They are demonstrating resistence in the flesh-and-blood and show us what survival means in its purest form by simply breathing and lamenting together. Hands clutching each other eyes set on the heavenly prize which is the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before them and surround them even now.
They are where they are supposed to be – these saints, these angels, these ministers of light and love and power.
I keep thinking about tactics. That the pursuit of justice requires participants and players at all levels of the game. And in all possible spaces and places. There is no one way to do this justice work. We need all hands on deck. Somehow, this shapes my sense of vocation more and more as the urgency towards the goal and theology of #blacklivesmatter becomes more intensely a part of this life. It’s unavoidable. Another shooting. #andregreen What does it mean to embody this theology here, there, wherever I am? What does it mean as a parent? What does it mean as a woman? What does it mean as a clergyperson? What does it mean as an AAPI? To work towards the tangible goals of decreasing police violence and brutality, better housing, employment, and education for all, and dismantling the prison industrial complex. What can I do from where I am? What can the #church do?
I lift up the darkness. I embrace the middle. I articulate the longing for a profound and meaningful transformation that impacts all – and particularly the church – from within – without – and throughout its currents. I do what I can with what is before me wherever I am. With the sacraments of defeat and loss, the liturgy of protest and grief, I hold up to the sky, prop up on my hands and back, those prophets of today whose voices are crying out in the wilderness for #blacklivesmatter #allblacklivesmatter and the call to #sayhername.