Mid-Week Minister’s Message 6/10/20

arif-mamdani15 years ago, I started a regular meditation practice that completely changed my life.  Not quite a year prior,  we had welcomed our first child into our lives. As a young first time parent, I didn’t know what to expect. And, as a just plain “young” person, I didn’t have any of the tools I have now to help me negotiate all this.

And so, I screwed up in more or less all of the ways one might. As a new parent I was angry and frustrated and in retrospect embarrassingly full of ego and blame and an inability to give voice to my real feelings, needs, fears, and doubts. I knew I wasn’t showing up as the parent or spouse I wanted to be, and I felt terrible. As my daughter’s 1st birthday drew near, I was more and more convinced that things needed to change. 

What turned things around for me was spiritual practice. Specifically, the daily practice of vipassana meditation, and regular corporate practice in the form of a weekly sitting group and dharma talk at my local meditation center. Things didn’t change quickly. I had to put in the work, and I had to trust that giving myself over to the practice would do something good, and eventually, it did. 

I share all this because we, as your interim ministry team, are inviting you into practice, and specifically, daily antiracist practice. To be clear, we’re speaking here to the folks in the congregation who identify as white. To the folks of color in the congregation, if you want support in working with the “stuff” that BIPOC folk internalize as a result of racism, we welcome that conversation, and you know where to find us – but we won’t be having that conversation here. Here, we’re talking to the white folks, and here’s our proposition for you:

Pick a practice that you can do every day that engages your racist tendencies. To be clear, if you live in America and you identify as white, we are 100% sure that you have racist tendencies. Pick something you can do every day with intention and attention. Pick something that you can do that calls you into more active antiracism. There are many things you could do, and here are some examples: 

  1. Wear a Black Lives Matter button and/or put up a BLM sign in the background of all your online meetings. Pay attention to how it feels. Note the kinds of conversations you have as a result. What does this tell you about racism?
  2. At the end of every day, write down the places where you noticed racism. This might be in you, it might be in situations you were in.  Pay attention to how it feels. Note the kinds of conversations you have with yourself as a result. What does this tell you about racism?
  3. This is a list of even more things you might do – pick one that you can do every day, and do it.

The point of this invitation is partially about the action you take, but also about the repetition. Meditation changes our habits, and over time literally changes our brains. It does so through the combination of practice and repetition. Similarly, we change racism not through denial of our own racism, nor through sharing social media posts, nor through consumption of articles, books, movies, etc, but through concrete antiracist action, repeated daily, for a significant period of time. 

Times up. Let’s get to work.

This weekly pastoral message by the Interim Ministry Team comes out on Wednesdays. Rev. Meg, Rev. Terri and Arif will take turns writing or recording a video. 

One Comment

  1. The daily practices of meditation (vipassana as well) , yoga, and gratitude put me on a path that allowed me to be an improved parent and human. I am now taking daily action to broaden my awareness and support of BIPOC. The ‘becoming a better person’ journey continues.

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