My Lenten discipline this year has been two-fold as I endeavor to take full advantage of this first Lent in a long while when I have no responsibility for how anyone else experiences the season. I’ve been reading a book of reflections titled “Are We There Yet: Pilgrimage in the Season of Lent,” and I’ve also been working my way through Layla F. Saad’s “Me and White Supremacy Workbook,” and I’ve been thinking about the work of that second resource especially as I’ve read all of the reactions and response to the massacre in New Zealand.
Yes, we need leaders who will condemn white supremacy in the strongest possible terms. We need leaders who won’t fan those flames to build a base. We need to weep for the fallen and for those who mourn, and to pray for them and ourselves, for a better world.
But the idea that white supremacy is a problem that exists “out there” is one of the great mistakes that those of us who so long for that better world are prone to make. In this country, white supremacy isn’t just about Confederate flags and Ku Klux Klan hoods. It doesn’t just Infect madmen. It’s an internal and external system that benefits those of us who think we are white (reference Ta-Nehisi Coates) in ways we are used to and even expect, even as we’re conditioned to be blind most of the time as to how it actually works. And there’s no real hope for deconstructing the system until we overcome that blindness, until we see how it has diminished our own humanity and how insidiously its poison is working even in those of us who truly want to be better than that.
If you’ve got the heart to do the work of this journey—Saad calls it “becoming a good ancestor,” which seems right to me since I do in fact have ancestors of my own who owned hundreds of slaves—the “Me and White Supremacy Workbook” is free. You can read about it and get your own copy here:
**Holy God, grant this day that I will have eyes to see and ears to hear of the great cloud of witnesses that surround me as I travel this path. Help me to remember the ones who suffered beyond words and to hold their memory in my heart. May we all find healing as we remember. Amen.**
The prayer is from “Are We There Yet” (Marek P. Zabriskie, Nancy Hopkins-Greene, Bo Cox, Minda Cox, Jeffrey Queen, Catherine Meeks, Teresa P. Mateus, Frank Logue, Victoria Logue, and Rachel Jones)” I’m considering a real geographical pilgrimage later this spring, but right now it feels as if my soul is on a kind of spiritual pilgrimage, a journey of transition from one place and way of being in ministry to some other.
Does it count as pilgrimage if your ultimate destination is unknown, even as you travel toward it? And is it true, as Tolkien wrote, that “Not all those who wander are lost?”