Among the things I consider urgent in 2019 the re-visioning of the ways in which the Black Religions and Black religious traditions respond to the lives, needs and concerns of of those most vulnerable in their congregations and in society as a whole. Note: I hadn’t intended this to be my first post of 2019, but I had scheduled the post many weeks ago and quite literally forgot about it. At the end of 2018 I posted the reflections of my friend Melissa as she journeyed through her annual 30 days of Thanks. Though Melissa had ritually for years conducted similar journeys, she had always done so privately. For 2018 she went public, sharing her journey with friends and making suggestions for financial activism. With her permission I posted her journey, delivering a different type of public sharing than she initially imagined, but one in which she embraced.
Melissa’s journey is thought-provocation and riveting, challenging notions of faith, religion adherence, and hope in brutally honest ways. In calling out the Black church and Black spirituality in contemporary society, Melissa challenged the Black church while calling on its legacy of resilience and hope in her work to move forward to build a better world for herself, her daughter, and her community of diverse fellows. Simply put she is demanding a that the legacy that served to make her, serves to make her, and others who are of it, better.
I understand Melissa’s call. For several years I have been in a spiritual research, learning ,and sharing mode, eking out deep knowledge from the backwaters of spiritual masters in order to help nourish the mammoth of spiritual waves necessary to heal and nurture a people in these times. I have sat at the feet, tables, and in the pews of those promising to teach more than preach, question more than answer, build more that present. And, I have attended conferences in which academic knowledge is matched with embodied inquiry and/or seek to explain or examine intersections of spirituality, The church, and Blackness. The March of 2018 Black Religions, Spirituality and Culture Conference at Harvard was one such conference.
In 2019 the challenge of putting the knowledge gained to work is at hand. Not just for me, but for all those like myself who have been preparing, hoping, praying. The time is at hand and the need is great. My hopes of goodwill and kindness goes out to all, especially Melissa.