Camille Dungy came to our adult formation time last Sunday morning . Ms. Dungy is a professor at Colorado State University, an essayist and poet. She read searingly beautiful and heartbreaking descriptions of her daily experience, much of which highlights the racism that permeates U.S. culture.
Her stories brought me to tears. I wasn’t sure why I was moved so deeply. In my awkward, introverted attempt to express my feelings, I said something about her tales becoming ours. They must belong to all of us. Understandably that earned me a skeptical look before the discussion turned to other responses.
In today’s reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, we hear that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, which we have from God. All the people I meet, every day, are temples. It is our true nature to be receptacles of the living breath of God. The Holy Spirit roosts in each one of us, speaks the language of each one of us, shares the sorrows, terrors and joys of each one of us.
I sorrow all the way to the bottom of my heart that black children must be taught best practices to avoid death at the hands of police officers who should be programmed to protect them, that migrants live in fear of being torn from their families and deported, that Muslim women risk verbal and physical assault each time they go out in public, just because they wear a hijab. But this is what it means to be an American. The U.S. is not just the land of the free and the brave, we are the home of the terrified and the oppressed. I am finding it more and more important not to whitewash our identity, not to think of our experiences of oppression as something that happens to “minorities”. We must sit with our terrible racism, serve up the knowledge of it with dinner every night, and pray about it every single day. We must know the stories. They must become our stories.
We are temples for the Holy Spirit, given to us by God. We do not belong to ourselves, we belong to Christ. We do not have the luxury of forgetting one another’s suffering. It is holy work to remember, to acknowledge and to mourn.
More about Camille Dungy: http://camilledungy.com/
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and writer who lives with her partner of 30 years and her sister in Fort Collins, Colorado. Some of her icons can be seen at http://everydaymysteries.com/, and check out her novel, a progressive Christian story, at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074G137V8/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1