On the first weekend on November, the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ met as part of the forthcoming Southern New England Conference. More about that another time. During the gathering, though, the key note speaker, Valarie Kaur, said this:
“What if the darkness of the nation right now is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if this is our time of great transition?”
Kaur is a Sikh activist and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. She knows firsthand the effects of racism and religious discrimination. Her words are helpful, I think, because even if you haven’t felt the direct brunt of these it is easy to feel a kind of immovable gloom surrounding our great American society today.
The polarization has never been more pronounced and hatred percolates just below the surface. Carl Bernstein has even said that we are currently in the midst of a “cold civil war” in this country. Truth became a casualty when bullying went mainstream in our public discourse.
It can indeed feel like the darkness of the tomb.
There is great power in advancing that metaphor and considering the darkness to be a preparation for a new beginning; a birth if you will. Changing the tomb to the womb can reprioritize both our emotions and our actions. We no longer need to feel depressed and helpless. Instead we can feel anticipation, hope and, yes, even joy.
That is certainly the goal of Advent and by simply changing one letter (“tomb” to “womb”) we can apprehend that hope and joy as it relates to what can otherwise be the heaviness of our nation’s politics right now.
More importantly, when we reorient ourselves to an attitude of a new birth, our actions become more meaningful and the energy behind them is more positive and optimistic rather than angry and frustrated. Something new is on the way. Something creative and beautiful can come from these labor pains and contractions.
Valarie Kaur concluded her remarks with these words:
“If we labor for justice in love, then our labor becomes porous enough to let joy in. For we will be somebody’s ancestors someday. And if we get this right, they will inherit not our fear, but our bravery.”
Birthing something new does take courage. But as we go through these challenging times, we can trust in God that no matter how long the labor, a delivery of “good news of great joy” is indeed on the way this Advent season and in the new year.
See you in church,