Beloved St. John’s community,
Throughout the city and the nation, leaders and companies and groups of every kind have been speaking out this week to decry and lament and protest the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, precious child of God, at the hands of the police. When I saw the news on Monday morning I just wept. How long, O God? Daunte Wright is our neighbor, and our brother. Although it seems that the officer who killed him may have done so unintentionally, the systems we have created that have led to this event are not an accident. They are the direct, tragic, and appalling result of five centuries of state-sanctioned and Church-supported racism in this hemisphere.
Yesterday morning, I once again attended the 8:00am Healing Prayer Tent which is occurring every day of the trial of Officer Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd. I was moved beyond all words to see that the speaker yesterday was Ruby Sales. For those who may not remember, on Good Friday and on Easter I spoke about Ruby Sales, the black teenager who in 1965 was the intended victim of a shooting in Selma, Alabama, and who was protected by her friend Jonathan Daniels, who took the bullet intended for her and was killed. I am told Ruby did not speak for six months after that event. But she was with us yesterday, and called herself a “long distance runner for justice.” She shared what she called her “pragmatic optimism,” which is the ability to look at life exactly as it is yet never to despair, never to cease believing in transformation and change and redemption. We can do this because we stand in a long line of people steeped in the power of the Holy Spirit, beginning with Jesus himself, knowing we all receive the power of love greater than ourselves and can pass that love on regardless of the cost.
Sondra Samuels, one of the primary organizers of the Healing Prayer Tent and also the founder and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone, thanked Ruby for her powerful words yesterday, and then she did something I’ll never forget. She thanked everyone who attended. She thanked those who were here for the first time. Then she thanked those who, like myself, came when they could. And then, it seemed to me that she paused and her voice changed, and she profoundly thanked all those who showed up every day, shoulder to shoulder with them.
And I saw that what is needed in this moment is for our love to be expressed through the humble and simple willingness to show up—every day, in presence and actions, not just words. It is indeed like the long distance running for justice that Ruby spoke about—like putting in the daily runs of no consequence which alone can train you for the marathons of life. What is needed to communicate solidarity with our Black and Brown brothers and sisters and siblings in Christ is not occasional showing up, but consistent, day in and day out presence. The ministry of presence—building relationships—will not work if it’s a drop-in, occasional, convenience-only kind of thing. Yesterday, I saw that what God is asking of me is to show up at the Healing Prayer Tent every day at 8am unless I really truly can’t (which if I’m honest is rare). This is far more about what I am communicating to our loved ones who are navigating this trial with exhaustion and trauma and pain and anger than it is about what I myself “get” from the experience. This is about saying to them, you matter, I care, and we are in this together, truly. And of course, this isn’t the only thing I can or should do. But I felt nudged by the Spirit to make this a priority.
What is needed in this moment is our bodies and our hearts and minds, showing up. It is not about us; it is about whether or not we answer the call of the Spirit, to “go” across lines of difference—not for ourselves, but to be in solidarity with those who are on the front lines every day. When we are there, we meet people and make connections and cultivate relationships. We learn what the needs are and have right in front of us the answer to “how can we help?” without having to ask. Most of all, we are enacting the Beloved Community instead of dreaming about it, talking about it, or wishing it could become a reality.
Where is God asking you to show up today? If you pay attention with all your centers of knowing – mind, heart, body – what is the Holy Spirit inviting of you?
In loving solidarity with all God’s children,