I'm on sabbatical...a blessed contribution to my ability to be resilient...and while crossing the border from Canada, I met unexpected push-back from a young US Customs Officer. (I'm a white woman of a certain age, and a dual citizen, with no expectation of being questioned so sternly.) As I considered how much worse the border crossing is for those with less privilege, I also reflected on the anger apparently being cultivated in these agents. As I re-collected my documents, I gave the agent a watchful stare, and fancied myself a 'Woman in Black'[i]...witnessing to the needless disrespect being shown to someone old enough to be his mother, let alone to any other human being. It was, though wholly inadequate, a brief moment of resistance.
While traveling, I had the opportunity to visit First Universalist Church in Minneapolis. On that Sunday, the topic was risk (with a side of resistance.) Our colleague, Rev. Justin Schroeder, likened the darkness of these days to time in the womb, when we are preparing for something new to come into being. He offered doula-like advice...advice inspired by Valarie Kaur[ii]: be sure to breathe, and when the time comes, push. Breathe, and then push.
Another adventure on this sabbatical time took me to a training on facilitating cultural change. There, a paired exercise had us pushing against one another, palms to palms...experimenting with the options such a position offers. I discovered in that exercise the surprising ability to steer my pushing partner...not by pushing back, but by re-directing the oppositional energy. Let them push, but remain in control of the direction and outcome.
And so I am reminded of the many ways to resist. As shared in the Tapestry of Faith curriculum "Resistance and Witness,"[iii] I can offer a prophetic voice by witnessing, or by pushing. I can offer an alternative voice that re-directs and re-frames the issue in support of a more compelling alternative. And, I can contribute to my own resilience, by breathing and re-fueling my energy. May we each find our own, and our many, beautifully varied voices of resistance.
Rev. Julie Stoneberg
[i] I was first introduced to Women in Black in Israel...women who stand and observe checkpoints, to remind young soldiers that their mothers are watching. http://womeninblack.org/
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