By Conference Minster Diane Weible
The other day someone sent me a link to a clip, “Buffalo Soldiers and the Importance of Hidden History”. I watched the National Park Service Ranger telling the story of the Buffalo Soldiers with fascination. The story itself was important, yes. And, what intrigued me the most was the Ranger’s telling of it. He brought the story to life and he made a connection with his own role in the National Park System in such a way that I connected and I learned.
At the very end he said something that really resonated: “History is mostly forgotten and it is our job to bring it into the light. Every story deserves to be heard.”
February is African American History Month. The stories are there. Forgotten stories that need to be told are available and we need to hear them. We need to listen with open and generous hearts. We need to hear with our hearts and souls, not to reply, but to hear the story for what it means to that person and what it says to us.
Our Annual Gathering Theme for 2021 is “The Elephant Speaks: Listen. Reflect. Learn.” That is our hope for 2021. In our gatherings throughout the year and, we hope, in our individual and collective reflections and work, we will listen, reflect and learn.
Stories tell us important information we need to know. They also tell us important information about the person telling the story. Too often, the dominating culture in our society has been controlling the narrative. All stories were seen through the lens of one particular viewpoint. The invitation is for us to expand our narratives as we listen to others. We don’t forget our own stories but in listening with a generous heart, we discover that which we did not know. We bring light to the stories that have been kept (even forced) into the dark.
To enhance my own journey, I have just purchased a book that was recently recommend to me. It’s called, “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019” The editors are Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain. I look forward to listening to the stories in this book as I also reach out to as many of my my siblings in this Conference as possible so I can further develop the sacred art of Listening, Reflecting and Learning. I hope you will join me.