Weary on the Journey

By Caenisha Warren

There has been weariness in my mind, body and soul.  It’s brought me to wonder whether I should withdraw from work, church, family, friends.  Then I think but God…God created us within and for community.  If that speaks any truth over my life and being, then there is some reason God has me present for such a time as this.  And in truth, there is a deep sense and longing for community within me.

At the end of July I became aware of this weariness on a challenging mini-Sankofa Journey.  After 10 years in active ministry in justice and reconciliation, I hit a wall and I was growing weary of the white spaces that surrounded me.  I entered the University’s academic year this way. I wondered, could I ask this community to hear and hold my places of wrestling?

I sat in a prayer service that was a lamenting response to the shootings of Alton Sterling and Phillando Castille.  I sat amidst a primarily white gathering with an anxious sense that this service wasn’t safe for me. These were brief thoughts I wrote after that prayer service: The comforts of prayer are impacted by the community it’s given in. That is not to say less of the actual prayer offered. The honest cries of a prayer are never discounted. But I sat in a room, praying in “community”, as I lived into my brown skin.

The news as summer continued began to challenge the very life I breathed; as well as new personal experiences that pressed me into a space of marginalization at the intersection of who I am as a woman of color.  And then there is the state of politics and the swirl of political rhetoric that has been modeled and practiced, that has made a cause for great concern as well.  What kind of society are we regressing towards? It is not just escalated events, or a political stage.  It is everyday living that is turning our cities into a scary place to live; and for the marginalized, a scary space to be.

The unsafe space of white surrounding closed in on me in a similar way back on the bus of the Journey.  I was weary of the numerous vulnerable sacrifices in regularly being the story of difference.  I began wrestling with questions such as, when in discussions over policing and black and brown bodies, do those involved realize that my body, and those I know and love, are the subject?  If I reflect over Standing Rock, I am agonizing over the ways that our practices of violence repeat; and how when marginalized voices get raised, the laws of justice somehow become less clear.  Native lives matter.  Black lives matter.

As you prepare your places of community, I am wondering is it really safe for all? If yes, how will you continue? If no, how will you cultivate, embrace and become a safe community?  I left that Sankofa bus with a need for community, but one of safety and protection for the marginalized.  If I am going to continue in this ministry, I need this community.

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