The Courage of Her Convictions
I was on the road this weekend, driving a total of about 20 hours to be in Iowa on Saturday afternoon for an ordination and then back home to preach Sunday morning in Cleveland.
Because of that, I was detached from what was unfolding on the streets in Charlottesville.
During the ordination ceremony itself, I was getting texts from Traci Blackmon, our Executive Minister for Justice and Witness Ministries. She was in Charlottesville. White Nationalists and Nazis and Klan members were all going to show up there and spew hatred. Traci was among the courageous leaders whose voices would be lifted up calling for peace, love, and resistance to hate.
It turned ugly.
The texts began to describe conditions that we feared might unfold. Violence and mayhem and melees were breaking out.
She was doing a live interview on MSNBC when she was swept off-screen without explanation and disappeared. For a few tense moments, as violence was escalating, we didn’t know where she was or if she was safe.
Not long after that she texted to say that some anarchist had just run over some protesters with a car. One of them would be killed, and many others injured.
At one point I asked how she was – and she simply responded, “My body is fine. My spirit needs work.”
My spirit needs work.
Traci is one in a long line of sheroes who shows up in the hard places and fights evil in the flesh. Confrontation with the powers and principalities is necessary. It was once said: all that evil needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing.
Traci can’t do, won’t do nothing.
She reminds us of what courage in the struggle looks like.
She showed up in Ferguson after Michael Brown’s murder.
She showed up in Orlando after the pulse shooting.
She showed up in Standing Rock with the water protectors.
And she was in Charlottesville with the white nationalist Nazis.
After all that, her body is fine. Her Spirit needs work.
This is about Traci – but it isn’t. This is about all those who put their bodies on the line to stand up for justice in the presence of evil. It takes a toll on one’s Spirit as well as one’s body.
Please, pray for our sister, and others like her who show up.
The Sacred is always with us, but our Spirits need sustenance to endure the long, hard struggles on the way to realize God’s Shalom. May our prayers in support of her body and spirit bring her solace, comfort, and courage. Let us all be there to sustain each other in this, our often disquieting journey Into the Mystic.