It's not about you Scot, milk the cows...
Spending time in the barn milking Bonnie and Umma is often a time for me to put things into spiritually prioritized perspective. Of course, my thoughts were racing toward moving finish-lines before my stroll to the barn. Sandra Bland has been on my mind, as well as Breonna Taylor and the events in Rochester, Kenosha, and Washington DC. My impulses are outrage and emotionally charged knee-jerks toward issuing calls for righteous judgment upon oppressors and systematic injustice.
Today, as I listened to the grand jury decisions regarding the murder of Ms. Taylor, it was reinforced as true that her life simply does not matter. Not only did the powers that be not say her name, they didn’t even include her initials as they did of neighbors who were impacted negatively by the police gunfire that murdered another young black individual on the edge of being all she could be. I have prayed mightily for YHWY to bring justice to this country and liberate my neighbors of all backgrounds from their bondage to institutionally racist hierarchies, castes, and worthiness assumed according to standards of whiteness. European culture is built on a foundation of bones bleached white over the ages and chains rusted in a manner that will not let the blood of its victims be washed away from memory as just another racial epithet.
I was ready to go to Grand Rapids or Detroit to join the marches and be witness to any state sponsored or police terror unleashed upon my neighbors, and our national future who dwell in the cities of Michigan. I was ready to go, and angry enough to be loud and disruptive and defend the interest of the oppressed. But I new I had to milk the cows tonight. I also new that much of my direction was guided by media accounts and hype, rather than by any real leading from God in a manner that would have reflected the love of Christ.
As I milked the cows and listened to music, I settle into that experience of working with animals and being cognizant of my relationship to them that dwell in the barn and myself, who benefits from their bodies in both life and death. I also work with the animals to provide sustenance for neighbors, friends, and strangers. I recognized to very important things as I milked the cows and worked through the fact that I was relaxed and safe enough - stable enough, if you will forgive the pun – to recognize the importance of roles; cultural, social, economic and religious roles that God has lead me to, and which should be a major consideration in how God is leading me to act in Jesus’ name on God terms and not mine.
This is what I discovered this evening in the barn.
That old song came on, “What if God was one of us” by Joan Osborne and I immediately fell into contrariness. I have read and heard to many ridiculously shallow sermons on the answers to the questions embedded within Osborne’s song. The old “God was one of us, and his name was Jesus” bullshit wears out my patience. But there is part of the song that always prompts my tendency toward egalitarianism that plays out in all of my thinking, even how I think about relationship with the divine. Whenever the verse comes around that asks “if god had a name, would you say it to his (sic) face” I always respond “yes I would, and I would have a lot of fucking questions.” First of all, can I have a whisky safely while I talk with Jesus.
Tonight, I realized that this is a flaw in my thinking, because not prioritizing a distinctive divine desire for human relationships, and what my role is as directed by the divine, cannot be my will. This has been the problem with liberalism that I have been quick to judge, yet slow to realize that I am guilty of such sin. My thinking is such that I get to do what I want in the name of justice, and claim God’s guidance and favor, and do so as a matter of faith. Consistently, however, my witness and ministry to the Creator God, YHWH El Shaddai who is the mountainous rock of stability and breast of loving nurture is the creator’s business, and not necessarily coincidental to my interests. But it is in my interests that I tend to act, setting out to right wrongs when I in fact, may be either one of the wrongs that must be righted, or, I have gotten out to far ahead of my competency, and think I am clear to act in God’s name. Turns out my task tonight was obviously to milk cows, write essays, and calm the fuck down before I let someone down. Alternatively, and more suspiciously true, I go downtown to make the issue of justice about me, and not about the obvious fact the Black lives obviously do not matter one holy fuck to the white establishment and their terror class.
For me to be led by people of color in this resistance to racism and murder, I must be one capable of being led. I must be receptive to being given a task that is important or necessary to the justice of God, as made known through the cross of Christ, and not at all about me. My ministry is not about me, nor is the plight of my black and brown neighbors about me. If it is to be about the others, than I must allow for my roles as established through the cross to be the roles that allow me to serve persons of color in overcoming injustice in a manner that reflects the will of God and not the desire of Scot to be that white guy on the right side of history.
I stayed home tonight. I had to farm, and be a husband and father, and I had to have some time to be led by the Spirit of Christ, and the ghosts of Sandra Bland and Tom Joad, rather than the spirited ego and longing for control over outcomes that belong to the oppressed, and not the guy who prays the prayer of Habakkuk every night. Those prayers are being answered, and it turns out I am praying for my will, and not the will of Black and Brown lives. Repentance is where it is at, Revolution simply replaces existing power structures with new power that needs old structures to be intelligible. I will lean more toward the absurd, the cross of Christ that indicates I might consider giving up my privilege and rights so that others may finally posses such.