Recovery and Reconciliation for the Long-Haul
My boyfriend recently started a new job at a small local homesteading service. He spends his week days out in the hot Georgia sun digging swales, moving stones for hardscapes and tending to all sorts of vegetation in peoples’ yards. It’s a great job, but its very hard work. And as you would expect, after his first week, he was exhausted. His muscles had been stretched and torn, and in order to prepare for the next week of hard work, he needed to recover.
That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about life over the past few weeks.
In the immediate aftermath of the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, its as though I had just enough emotional energy and capacity to walk alongside my brothers and sisters for about a week. Honestly. I could only lament for a week. I could only pray about it for a week. I could only lead in the work of racial reconciliation for about a week. In the same way that my boyfriend’s new job taxed his body, its as though the pain and strain of violence in our country taxed my soul. It was exhausting. So I’ve been recovering.
Oh the privilege that is it recover. To take a few days or weeks to step outside of the conversations and the prayer nights and the passionate pursuit of justice – because in so many ways, even though I’m a Black woman, I am privileged enough to not have to deal with worst of racism and violence in my context. Police don’t patrol my neighborhood. I am formally educated and have a salaried job, so I don’t worry about where my next meal is going to come from. I can opt out from time to time. On some level, that’s a good thing because the burdens are weighty. But I would be remiss not to acknowledge the privilege that it is – the privilege of options and of having a choice to enter into the story or to not enter in.
But after a few weeks of recovery – of checking out and spending time with my loved ones and doing things that bring me joy – I’m wondering what it looks like for me to re-engage. What does it look like to be a voice for justice and reconciliation and healing? Not just for a week or two, but for the long-haul?
One of my critiques of the racial justice movement as it relates to social media and the media in general is that it pulls on the core of our heart strings and demands this sort of immediate, emotional response. But it doesn’t call us or equip us to be reconcilers and seekers of justice for the long-haul. Only community can do that. Only rhythms or rest and work can do that. Only a life immersed in the tangible, committed rhythms of God can do that. Reconciliation and social justice isn’t about speaking up once – though I commend my brothers and sisters who’ve lifted their voices in support of the movement towards equity and equality. But reconciliation is a journey. It takes commitment, vision, community and time.
These are just some of my thoughts this morning. I don’t mean to judge the need to recover – it’s a part of the journey. In fact, I think that’s what God desires for all of his children – that we’d hold the beauty and brokenness of creation in tension. But don’t checked out. Re-engage. Start praying again. Keep learning. Hear more stories. Ask more questions. And join the Reconcilers Coalition for updates on ways that you can stay connected to the movement towards freedom.