This summer we’ve invited our congregation to make a “migration bird” that tells something about their own or their family’s history of migration. We’ll hang a great flock of our “birds” overhead in our sanctuary during our upcoming year-long worship series on exploring issues of migration.
In the last few weeks I struggled with how to portray something about my own and my family’s story of migration. Would I use pictures of relatives, draw a map, paint a picture of what all the ups and downs of my life have felt like? Would I picture my story or include what I know of my ancestor’s stories?
Two weeks ago I started by gluing some watercolor paper on my cardboard bird. I painted my bird blue which made me think of water and skies, movement and change.
I started writing on one side the names of all the places I’d lived. On the other side, people that have been important in my life.
And then, Charlottesville….
The news of the past week has made me look at my bird in a different way. Now instead of just being a bird showing all these people and places I celebrate, I now notice at what’s missing in my own story.
I notice all the places I have been privileged to live. I think about who I connected with in these places and those I did not. I think about the places I have not chosen to see or go. I think places I need to go to learn and listen.
I look at the people in my life and give thanks. I look at all the peoples that have not been part of my life. I look at how few people of color I named. I think of people I need to reach out to and get to know.
I see the beauty and I see the wounds now in my story.
And then, Charlottesville….
The riot in Charlottesville calls me to again to commit myself to step into and look at my own story – my responsibility, my whiteness, my privilege, my silent complicity. The violence and hatred in Charlottesville and the racist rhetoric from President Trump force me to commit myself to not just throw up my hands or get mad but to change my own story.
How will I do that? How will I commit myself to deeper learning, continued growing, listening, and engagement with others as I look at my story of how race, racism and white privilege has shaped my life? How will I be changed?
And then, Charlottesville…
This week our church added our own words to all the words that have surrounded this week, words that give me hope and make me wonder: How will we as church not only proclaim but embody these words and change our own story and engagement here as church?
A Statement of Commendation and Solidarity: The Church Council of University Congregational United Church of Christ, in Seattle, Washington, gratefully commends the faithful work of religious leaders in and around Charlottesville, Virginia, as they demonstrate their commitment to the love and justice of God in the face of hatred and violence on display in their community. In their spirit, we affirm that Christ leads us to celebrate and protect the unity and diversity of all of God’s people and, therefore, to stand publicly and to organize cooperatively in solidarity against any appeals to white supremacy, religious bigotry and nationalistic intolerance.
As we stood at our Church Council meeting on Wednesday and recited them together, I committed to live more fully into this way of change. It’s a journey I’m glad we can step up and take together as church.