We meet the 1st and 3rd Thursdays at St. Gertrude's Ministry Center
(6214 N. Glenwood), beginning at 8:00 p.m. Folks are welcome to join us at anytime.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Conjectures of a Guilty Lakesider

Prophets, Civil Rights, & Commitment
by: The Boat Czar
“I hate and despise your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemn festivals…But let Justice surge like water and goodness like an unfailing stream.” (Amos 5:21, 24) Listening to the mighty words from Amos in my humble lake chapel two weeks ago I felt my soul rise and move with energy. My heart wanted to cry an “Amen!” as I imagined the rallies that I had been reading about during the civil right struggle where this very passage was read. These words left me agitated and restless. I wanted to move, act, and do something.

A new prophet began this past week. The denunciations of Amos were left behind and the tender words of Hosea were heard talking of God luring Israel back like a lover. The unfaithful and unjust are not abandon by our tender God. It is said of Israel “She shall be called my husband…I will espouse you to me forever.” (Hosea 16, 22). The God of justice and energy is also the gentle lover who is ever faithful and committed to walking with the wandering people.

Reading more into the history of civil rights I am inspired by people I never knew about that followed God’s example. They are the minor characters of history who committed to the struggle of teaching and organizing everyday folks in the struggle for freedom. These are the likes of Ella Baker, who was the leg-work behind the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and who said once, “I have always thought that what is needed is the development of people who are interested not in being leaders as much as in developing leadership in others.” She, like Myles Horton and Septima Clark, cared for people and pushed them to develop not through stirring speeches but through questions and lives that made them think.

Bob Moses, another “hero” recalls that SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee) was invited to Mississippi to begin voting drives because people, “…saw in the students what had been lacking-that is, some kind of deep commitment that no matter what the cost, people were going to get this done.” These workers dedicated their lives to work with the poor of rural Mississippi to move a system in a small but significant way. Their commitment was both faithful and tactical. They burned for justice yet were patient so as to listen and walk with the people.

My restless soul that wants to act is soothed by these truths and stories. These “heroes” were deeply aware of their own particular reality and responded out of their courage and depth. This, I believe, is the invitation of God who walked as Jesus of Nazareth. He came to one small place to help and suffered with a particular people so that they might more fully participate in their salvation. God has chosen this world to work in and invites us to labor in our time and space.

Pedro Arrupe S.J. once said “Nowadays the world does not need words, but lives which cannot be explained except through faith and love for Christ poor." Arrupe is speaking of lives of commitment, sacrifice, and depth. It is a sacrifice because it is hard to let many things and causes go so as to dig in with a community. It is hard to take the necessary time to pray, grow, and develop your skills so that you may have the depth to respond faithfully and effectively. This is all part of the struggle, invitation, and gift that we have been given.

I pray that my peaceful and restless time on the lake may help to move towards these ideals. I pray for all of you responding now that God may give you the grace you need to further walk this road of salvation.

Some of the books that inspired this:
We Make this Road by Walking: Conversation on Education and Social Change Myles Horton and Paulo Freire
Parting the Waters: American in the King Years Taylor Branch –(a must read, many pages but reads like a novel)
I’ve God the light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle Charles Payne

1 comment:

  1. Ben,
    Thank you for the touching citation of the Very Rev. Fr. Arrupe, S.J.

    Lives that can only be explained--whose footnotes are Gospel--

    ...by prejudicial love for poor and humble, fallen and disturbed: the nonprofit call of the King.