Saturday night Osireion members were guests at an iftar (fast-breaking at sundown during Ramadan) at one of the local mosques. There were many out of town and out of state guests there; it was good to see old friends and make some new ones. It’s an African-American mosque, as well, so it was good for us to have another opportunity to be with each other during this tender time. My husband could not join us as he is still coordinating Red Cross support of all the wakes, funerals and services.
Yesterday I joined some other faith leaders at the State House where we had brief interaction with media, then spent over an hour having a wonderful heart-to-heart discussion of recent events and issues, until the sun drove us back to our offices for water and cooling down. We hope to issue a formal statement soon, but our primary concern was how to continue the good work being done, after things have settled down, the time when people tend to sink back into apathy and isolation. Next week we expect a larger than usual crowd for our regional interfaith meetup, where we will discuss, “Grieving Together, Healing Together.”
Now, to those who do not follow Wild Garden (and we know that is most of you), note that Discus long ago snarled my account so hopelessly that even they admitted they could do nothing to enable me to comment on Wild Garden. That is why in the past former Patheos Pagan editor Christine occasionally posted a reply to posts for me. I’m not particularly interested in the blog post numbers game, so that’s okay with me.
And to those who were put off by my last column, since I was too exhausted to articulate in a way that you could understand, Here Is The Point. South Carolinians are having real conversations, about unsavory topics which make people uncomfortable (obviously some of you were riled up!), about the deep waters that run beneath black tolerance of superficial white guilt or trendy public social activism. I have written here in the past about one of my colleagues who is frustrated that interfaith rarely goes beyond the polite “tea party conversation.” So when my friend, a beloved and respected black elder, chose to share his concern that he has a difficult message for his flock about his own community, I heard his heart’s cry. Since he cut his teeth in the angry black activist movements of the 60s, after growing up in a very poor, rural family, I am grateful for his candor. Neither he nor I have answers, but we know that we must talk about it.
Guess he was right when he said people would not like what he has to say. Ironically, the anecdote I actually expected might generate remonstrance was the circle of Pagans acknowledging how badly we treat each other, and praising the example set by Emanuel AME members. And here we are now, with noted Pagans lecturing on how it is “too soon for forgiveness.” Dare I say that to the family members who faced their loved ones’ murderer last week with their own choice to forgive? It is never, ever, too soon for any kind of forgiveness, which is the privilege of the one who is wounded, sometimes their only privilege. That is simply my opinion, which is not so humble after all, since I’ve been at this since before many of my readers were born.
Yesterday I received a newsletter from our most prominent state grassroots organization, which summed up the latest on how many votes are already lined up to take down the Confederate flag, upcoming rallies, etc. This line caught my eye, “A continued citizen presence and insistence on removing the flag will facilitate getting the job done promptly. But be mindful that grandstanding on the flag’s removal, especially by national figures, isn’t helpful.”
While Patheos is willing to host me, I will continue to write and I will refrain from sanitizing my comments to conform to someone else’s ideas of the correct way to do civil rights. Unless you live here, you probably should trust the people who do. We are living our truth, walking into our talk, and we know how to tell our own story. I am proud to be here to witness the turning of the wheel to a new part of our history.
(Click here to read about Pitchfork Ben Tillman, photographed yesterday at right, defaced today, the next icon that many of us long to bring down.)