Reflections from the Garden
Sr. Patricia Simpson, OP
June 7, 2020
We have a cat; a beautiful white cat named BC (Barn Cat). On these lovely summer mornings, BC and I enjoy the quiet and beauty of our patio and backyard. I sit and enjoy my cup of tea while BC does her ‘cat things.’ One of her cat things is to guard the yard from intruders like squirrels and birds. Each morning we have a bluebird that comes to visit. When it arrives BC goes into action. She challenges Mr. Bluebird with her quivering lips and stiffened tail, ready to pounce on this bird at the appropriate moment. One morning I said to BC, “Can’t Mr. Bluebird come and enjoy the quiet and beauty of our yard as we do?” Of course, I know the answer.
Part of my time sitting in the quiet of the yard is to read NCR’s Pencil Preaching by Pat Marrin. On June 1, as I was scrolling to his website I was caught by Bryan Massingale’s reflection “The Assumptions of White Privilege and What We Can Do About It.” I started to read Bryan’s words and found myself wanting to put the article down and moving on to Pat’s reflection for the day. But I pushed myself to continue reading, reading to the end of the article.
Why did I want to stop? Why did I find his words difficult? Is it because there was much truth in his words?
Bryan states that when Amy Cooper reported Christian Cooper to the police because he was threatening her in New York’s Central Park, she “knew exactly what she was doing. We all do.” I wanted to say, “Yes, Bryan, we all do know exactly what we are doing. We work for justice. We believe Black Lives Matter. We believe all lives matter. Our Mission Statement says that ‘we bring the Gospel to bear with depth and compassion on the critical issues of our times.’ So yes, we do know what we are doing because we work hard making the words of the mission statement a reality.”
So why am I bothered by Bryan’s reflection? I believe it is because I lack understanding, a true understanding of what it is like to be a person of color. I lack an understanding of their history, their deep pain, and sorrow. I lack understanding of their years of frustration, their lack of being noticed and known. I lack the Spirit’s gift of understanding.
During our Chapter of 2019, our Congregation reflected upon and created a Congregational Future Statement. An excerpt from this statement reads: we commit to creating a community that is welcoming to all by improving our communication skills, examining our own complicity in racial injustice, and cultivating intercultural understanding and appreciation.” Maybe it is time for me to make these words my words and bring them to reality in my life.
Is it possible for BC to welcome Mr. Bluebird to our yard? I do not think so for it is her instinct to be on guard and to chase him away. What about me? What does BC’s instinct teach me about my own behaviors? Hasn’t the Risen Christ taught me to welcome the stranger in our midst? To offer peace, love, compassion, and understanding? Am I able to share the beauty and peace of my backyard with others? I sure do hope so!