By Conference Minister Diane Weible
This past weekend, one of our ministers reported vandalism to the Pray Their Names heart installation that has been traveling among the churches in our Conference. Created in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, Pray Their Names offers both the hosting church and the community a stunning appeal for attention to lives lost to police violence.
The creators of the installation are working on a new heart along with a response to the vandalism. When I learned about what happened and also of the response that is being prepared, I was reminded again of how important it is for us to be consistent and clear about standing up for justice.
The anxiety we are experiencing at this time is at an all-time high. The threat of evacuations and the concerns for our homes, the smoke in the air; the reminder every day that we cannot do the things we used to do in the same way we have done them before; the continued killing of black and brown bodies; the level of newness in every day and every week—all of that is exhausting. At least, that is how I am feeling. It is how I was feeling when I learned about the vandalism to the Pray Their Names heart installation.
I thought about it. I prayed about it. I thanked God for people with the kind of courage it takes to make the witness this heart installation represents and the kind of courage and strength it takes to respond to vandalism.
The more I understand about my privilege, the more I understand that the kind of exhaustion I am feeling is only a small example of the kind of exhaustion that my siblings in Christ experience every single day as the threats of injustice and oppression continue. I’ve said this before but I never want to go back to a time when I could go inside my house and shut out everything that is happening in the world—fires threatening communities, but not mine; people being killed because of the color of their skin, but not my loved ones; people dying from a pandemic because they are out working every single day and sometimes two jobs in one day just to put food on their table or taking on long hospital shifts to care for patients, but not me as I work hard from the safety and security of my home.
What I mean by that is where life is threatened, safety is not guaranteed, security is at risk—wherever that happens, whether it affects me and my loved ones or not—I need to be invested and I need to be a witness. I need to show up and speak out.
I try not to ramble when I write something for this newsletter, but today I realize I am rambling. I am actually ok with that because I know that I am not the only one who has so many thoughts running through their mind. I am not the only one looking for tools and resources to calm my anxiety and to help others find calmness of spirit and hope in the midst of fire and pandemic. I am not the only one who is searching for ways to be part of the much-needed change in our society and around the world.
There is much work to do. Whether illness, fire or injustice affects me or not, I need to show up and be there for those who are affected. To do that requires something that all of us already have (because I don’t think you would’ve read this far if you didn’t)—faith. The kind of faith through which we find strength and courage is what we need at this time. It is the kind of strength and courage that only God can offer.
Please God, holds us in this time. Inspire us. Move us. Build us up. Push us if we need it. We need you, God. Come Holy Spirit, Come.