As coffee takes hold on day 3 of my 55th journey around the sun, I’m curious about a photo that appeared as a sponsored ad in my Facebook feed. The image is of a famous person that I knew as a child, a child in my congregation.
I am mesmerized by the what ifs and might have beens as roads twisted and turned. By all accounts the now adult person is not only successful but also charitable, and I read on. The connections with other rich and famous folk, oh my. Meanwhile my life took a very different turn and I sit with my curiosity. A brush with one destined to be in the 1% while my life unfolds with those facing the other extreme in our land, I can’t help but be sucked into pondering this one.
I find myself remembering a fork in the road way back when I was a young pastor pushing back when a faction of the church wanted to hire a less qualified but apparently hetero musician. I remember the furor when I shared a children’s story that featured diverse family configurations. And I remember one angry member showing up on a Sunday with a hand lettered “I’m a white male American” sticker; he told me that I consistently addressed only two issues, race and homosexuality (sic). I remember church members leaving. Always more coming, but so many leaving. Honestly even now, decades later, it hurts. I wouldn’t have changed who I am or what I preached, but I’d be lying if I said the partings didn’t each one take a piece of my soul. So I look at the picture of the child now famous and remember the years of peelings and turnings and choices made in her life and in mine.
Marshata says that whiteness (with all of its baggage) is in our DNA as white folk and I know that she is right. While every point of divestment has been true and heartfelt, so too I have felt (and feel) the cling. What if … is the entrance to the rabbit hole but also the place to discover the confession that beckons. I remember courageous stands, and also cowardly dodges. My song is genuine but impure.
The bird is singing on the wire, a little too loudly for my taste. But the song is clear and strong, a call to our truest selves, to humility that enables greater empathy. Pushing against the DNA, letting go of nostalgia’s lure and resentment’s bait, I find a path breathing the simple rhythm of life’s longing for itself. Watching the bird sing where it is, I know that this too is my call. To sing my song as it is where I am. Changing, evolving, halting, imperfect.
One day at a time.