Our bloggers are finding interesting company this August, as summer begins to wind down. Their companions, human and otherwise, reveal places where God is at work, re-shaping us even more fully into the divine image within us.
Susan K. Smith is considering the company we keep when we are silent about white supremacy. She recalls that “One of the best and most powerful lessons my mother taught me was the lesson of “guilt by association.” “If you’re with someone who’s doing something wrong and the police come, you’re going to get arrested too, even if you haven’t done anything.” She told all five us that at a very early age, and it stuck to me.” So, in our silence, we’re joining the forces of hate. “I was thinking about the silence of so many white people in light of all that is going on, making them as guilty of racist behavior as the most vocal racist…Silence is a tool appreciated and exploited by the system of white supremacy; the thought seems to be on the part of many “progressive” whites that if racism isn’t talked about, then it doesn’t exist. The use of silence also seems to be an insurance policy for some whites who appear to think that if they are silent they cannot be condemned for being a participant in an evil system.”
How do we parent the child who is following an unusual path, wonders Jenni Ho Huan. We share our family journeys with all kinds of kids, and she poses the question of how to journey with the kid who: “isn’t the grandparent’s bright spark
incurs the ire of caregivers, ruins a teacher’s patience
is often friendless, struggles at school
has learning challenges, suffers chronic health concerns. The conditions are varied. Some have labels, others seem to even defy labels. What kind of parenting are we left with then?” How do we support the unusual child?
With the month of August as her guide and traveling companion, Jennifer Dee says “This month is all about cultivating calm and stillness and letting go of anxiety.” She’s practicing with her journal and places of quiet. “My hopes/practices for this month are as follows: Read & journal – While it’s not total stillness, it brings me a sense of stillness and calm and takes me away from mind numbing games on my phone. Sit (phone free) with coffee – Listening to the birds in the morning, letting my mind roam, allowing by lungs to just breath is a sacred time and space for me. Yoga and/or home stretching – I have a book titled Stretch and Pray. It’s time to bring that back into practice to help with my flexibility and mediation/prayer life.”
Artful Pentecost banners have been worship companions all summer for Kristin Berkey Abbott and her congregation, and now it’s time to take them down. She shares how her congregation made the banners, and gives a hint about their new worship companions. “Last Sunday, I read the Bible passages from each Sunday of the summer and asked people to listen for words or phrases that leapt out at them. Our project was to paint those words on the canvases. It was a different kind of lectio divina, one that worked well for our creative group.” The new artwork will see them through the season of Ordinary Time and to the door of Advent.
Cynthia Hallas reminds us that even when we seem to be alone, we are never praying by ourselves. “For me, raised in The Episcopal Church, the Daily Office in The Book of Common Prayer has always been helpful. Even though I pray the office in solitude, I feel that I am praying along with the whole Church. The collects and my own petitions help me focus on offering my own and others’ needs to God, and through the readings, prayers, and canticles, as well as time spent in silence, I hear the voice of God speaking to me.”
As summer winds down, who or what is accompanying you? Where are you noticing familiar company taking a new shape? Where are you finding new companionship? We would love to hear about your summer spiritual journeys in the comments section below.
Rev. Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian church. She will soon travel with her daughter, who has followed an un-typical path out of high school, to take her to college. She blogs from time to time at Stained Glass in the City. The image is my own, from “Flight to Freedom” created by artist Karen Heyl, and installed at the National Underground Freedom Center in Cincinnati.
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