There is a deep affinity between Rev. Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and the annual observance of Holy Week.
They are, of course, tied by the coincidence of time. The act of nonviolent resistance that landed Rev. Dr. King in the letter’s eponymous jail occurred on Good Friday. He spent that following Easter Sunday alone in an unlit, unfurnished cell. It was only on Monday that he was transferred to a new cell where he wrote the letter’s 7,000 words on scraps of paper and in the margins of newspapers.
The finished document is nothing short of a gospel tailor-made for our time: called into being by King the prophet, grounded in God by King the theologian, and shaped by King the servant of Justice.
What makes the letter so prescient at Holy Week is not only the calendar date, but also the content. Like the Gospel, it affirms our mutuality and shared fate. It affirms our part, no matter how small, in shaping the Kin-dom of God – the Beloved Community. It asks us to reflect on our motives and our beliefs, and to challenge our blind acceptance of the way things are. And, above all, it is steeped in love – a love that is unconditional, that is sanctioned by God and is the true calling card of the Gospel.
looking out the north facing window of the meetinghouse on the gardens [1.8.2016]
Bullet Journal Style Thoughts from 1.8.2017
- Wholeness is the symbol that embraces every last bit of our brokenness.
- First we must minister with the body of Christ in its localized incarnation so that we may reach out authentically to its global formation.
- Feeling opposition to a thingI am called to do. What is my vocation, and how can I better reveal it in my life?
is an opportunity for greater discernment in recognizing what it is
- How are my shortcomings better informing my gifts? If I am quick to anger over a certain phenomenon, how can I use that discomfort to create a space for a larger sense of equanimity?
Here is a place for thoughts that surface from Quaker Meeting for Worship. Some are messages that don’t reach the point of vocal ministry, some do, some surface in me, some in others. The Light is a joyously unpredictable thing.
/ codorus creek near its eponymous furnace [ 12.27.2016 ]
Bullet Journal Style … Thoughts from 1.1.2017
the beautiful ambiguity of symbols allows them to both point to and be the things they embody
our moments together are so brief…how should we rightfully apprise each one
most of our hardships come from trying to fit into the mold of the empire
it is the unfolding of things that is the most uncertain part
creating a welcoming space is all about the intention of relating comfort
Florida Scott-Maxwell’s writing is alive with a kind of ecstatic experience – living in the moment with a relentless presence while holding the gaze on the eternal. I love this book.
“Always, through everything, I try to straighten my spine, or my soul. They both ought to be upright I feel, for pride, for style, for reality’s sake, but both tend to bend as under a weight that has been carried for a long time. I try to lighten my burden by knowing it, I try to walk lightly, and sometimes I do, for sometimes I feel both light and proud. At other times I am bent, bent.”
Love is always the answer…but only when it sits in relationship with truth.
a feast of proportionality at the Metropolitan Museum of Art looking on to Central Park
Public discourse at its best is rich with paradox but recently seems mostly littered with misunderstanding. Echo chambers resound wildly amplifying hurt and fear, both of which, I can say personally, are utterly warranted in this new political landscape. But how to hold the hurt and fear with the nearly impossible paradox that brings love and truth together? What is a proportional response?
“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”
– Warren W. Wiersbe
And there’s the rub. A truth untempered by love is violence, while love without truth is toothless. I’ve seen quite a few white folks floating Dr. King quotes on the internet, especially this one: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” That seems like an enlightened response, but I’m not sure if it’s completely proportional. I think it’s a great sentiment that makes folks feel good. I think in its original context, the quote is a powerful stand for peace and reconciliation. But reconciliation is about first confronting some ugly truths. The light makes all the dark places known, not just the ones we want to see. Continue reading
After making a considerable change, am I showing up as myself in this new landscape or am I just sneaking in after intermission?
The idea of becoming someone new is tremendously seductive. The phrase “reinventing yourself” has 2.7 million hits on Google. And to be honest, why not? How much of a mess have we all made with our lives (especially as we reach the Great Middle) and wish we could do it all again, or at least start out on a different path?
Rebels choose wholeness over division.
Rebels prize the best self over the self created for a transactional and coercive environment.
To be a rebel is to make a choice for wholeness.
I long to hold a space where Hospitality (with a capital H) can cultivate that choice, particularly in the hospitality (lower case h) industry. It’s about bringing something transformational into a transactional context. It grows out of a desire to be our best selves: a wholeness born of all that we are.
When Hospitality is genuinely cultivated, it must be offered to all. In the hospitality industry, that means that before anyone else, Hospitality is first offered to those who provide goods and services, then to those who consume them.
And here’s the rebel part: the grace of Hospitality is only real when it’s freely offered to everyone. It’s not a transaction or a quid pro quo. As Henri Nouwen wrote, “Hospitality … means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.”
How many times have service providers seemed like enemies to their employers rather than friends? Where is that “free space” and how can we hold it for everyone?
Hospitality seeks to transform destructive relationships out of its pure generosity of spirit. It is not a transaction. It is a grace.
And like all creative forces, Hospitality is a rebel.
IMAGE: Spanish fresco showing pilgrims receiving hospitality on the road to Compostela, 13th century (source: reddit)