Crisis reveals the fault-lines of society; those places where the tectonic plates of race, class and gender collide. It’s shaky ground where no one wants to stand for long.
Yet we tend to stand there long enough to throw blame across the fissures. Just enough blame to ease our shame. Not long enough to feel the pain of others in our bones. Not long enough to feel our own complicity.
This is the day to find the courage to stand while the earth quakes, to obey the voice that calls us to see the sins the shifting sand revealed. Some of the cracks are easy to name because they seem distant: The poverty and privilege created by the notion and structures of white supremacy. But others are harder to sit with because they are so close: How have I benefited and perpetuated the very notions and structures I decry. The colliding plates of another’s pain and my own complicity is not a comfortable place to be. I confess that I need to spend more time there. Are you willing to join me?
This is a time to name the fault-lines we see and the fears that fuel them. But recognizing the fissures and crevasses in our social landscape and naming the fears we feel when we see them, are only the first steps. We also need to find ways to fill up or bridge the chasms so we can live together in the great diversity God created. I offer the series of questions below as a thought process, a tool to use as a possible starting place, or to add to the other resources in your collection. My hope is that it will help you facilitate a small group conversation, or a conversation between you and God.
Step 1: Looking for fault-lines.
1. What fault-lines do you see:
• In the country.
• In your city.
• In your congregation.
• In yourself.
2. Which fault-line do you want to investigate now?
3. Share a bit about what you are seeing and feeling?
Step 2: Feeling the fears.
What fears fuel this fault-line?
If you don’t know, try going deeper into what you are seeing by responding with a why question to each version of the story you tell yourself. For example: Why are people afraid of change? Because its uncomfortable. Why? Because it upsets their way of life. Why? Because they like things the way they are. Why? You get the idea – right? Don’t let yourself off the hook with your first or even fourth response.
Step 3: Hearing the Spirit’s voice.
Fear can paralyze people. Telling someone the scary truth about something rarely motivates them to change. Instead fear-filled facts trigger the defense mechanisms in our brains causing us to create stories that rationalize and dismiss any truths that humiliate or threaten us. The first step in overcoming fear is to calm the body down. Breathing techniques help. Another calming step is to remind yourself (or whoever is fearful) of a truth you trust, a truth that can lead you to deeper understanding. As Christians we have the resources of Scripture, prayer, songs and hymns to motivate paralyzed people to move. The goal of this step is NOT that we all calm down and go back to our old ways. The goal is to move forward and away from the paralyzing hold fear has on us.
1. What Spiritual resource (Scripture passage, prayer, song/hymn) speaks to the fault-line you are working on now?
2. What Spiritual resource speaks to the fear you are uncovering?
3. What Spiritual resource urges you to move past fear and work to cross the fault-line?
4. How are you going to use these resources to calm your soul?
Step 4: Following Jesus out of fear and into action.
1. What actions do your Spiritual resources motivate you to consider?
2. What is the first step that you will commit to doing over the next week?
3. Who will encourage you?
4. Who will do this with you?
I’d appreciate hearing your ideas about this conversation! What resources do you find helpful? How is your congregation responding to our recent earthquakes? Use the comment section below this blog entry to continue this conversation, or email me at Marjorie.firstname.lastname@example.org
May God enter our shaken lives with a deeper revelation of hope and love.
Rev Dr Marj Funk-Pihl
DEM SWCA Synod