The Four Vision Quests of Jesus and our own transformation

The Four Vision Quests of Jesus and our own transformation

This blog was written by Dr. Melissa Bird from the Engaging Racial Justice Working Group.

This year our diocese has experienced such glorious opening and expansion through our commitment to addressing issues of racism and white supremacy. Those of us who have been part of the Engaging Racial Justice Working Group (formerly the Commission to End Racism) have participated in enriching, graceful, and substantive conversations about race and racism. We have changed our name because the term racial justice goes beyond being anti-racist, it calls for the creation of supports to achieve and sustain racial equity, and we believe that is the work we have been called by the diocese to do. 

Recently our group was invited by Dr. Melissa Bird (Southern Paiute) to read The Four Vision Quests of Jesus by Steven Charleston. This book invites us to think of how we are all connected to God, Mother Earth, and our communities. In our conversation we discussed the transcendent experience of engaging in dismantling white supremacy and being organic in the way we are engaging in our work. White supremacy would have us believe that we are disconnected from each other and our collective experience. Steven Charleston reminds us that dissonance helps us develop a deep spiritual connection, change is meant to be uncomfortable. If we are willing to explore connection while releasing assumptions about this work, we allow ourselves to get us closer to our calling as God’s children.

We would like to invite you to reach for the spiritual center of the story and to look at anti-racist work as an opportuntiy for personal transfiguration. Bravery and courage for this work comes from our incredible liturgy. We are all one body, we are all interconnected, and we have access to the transformative and healing power of our gospel.

Our workgroup would like to invite you to open yourself to deep listening and transfiguration. You can begin with vulnerability and storytelling. There is time and more than enough grace to be deliberate and thoughtful in this work. You are being invited to a lifelong process of change, disruption, and dismantling of white supremacy and racism. We welcome you to join us in the temple, flip the tables, and bring people to Jesus’s calling to social justice. Some of the questions we invite you to ask yourselves are, “How do you want to engage in this work?” and “How do we weave this work through liturgy?”

When we pay attention to life, even the smallest details can bring us even closer to the great universal love of God. We hope that you will accept this invitation to engage in your own vision quest and reimagine your way going forward in doing anti-racist work. 

In closing we would love to share these words from Steven Charleston, “In the traditional Native spiritual understanding, all of creation is endowed with the spirit of God. The very fact that God imagined something into being means that that object of creation has the mind of God within it. The nature of God, the essence of God, the love of God have touched all things, for nothing exists that is outside of God.” Amen.

Becoming Beloved Community Week 1: Telling the Truth

(Ash Wednesday through Feb. 24)

PRAYER:

Q:          Will you persevere in resisting evil, and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
A:          We will, with God’s help.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

– Prayer for the Human Family (Book of Common Prayer, p. 815)

REFLECTION AND LEARNING:

  1. Read the detailed description of Becoming Beloved Community, focusing on Telling the Truth (pages 9-12)
  2. Read the Pastoral Letter written by the House of Bishops in 1994 on confronting the sin of racism.

ACTION:

For individuals:

  1. Anti-racism training is a requirement for all leaders in the Episcopal Church. In the Diocese of Oregon, the expectation is that this training (Diverse Church I) be taken at least once every ten years.
  2. If you haven’t taken the training recently, make the commitment now to take one of the workshops that will be offered throughout the rest of the year. (Click here for dates and registration.)

For congregations and groups:

  • Commit to surveying your leadership structure and see who might need to take this training – Ex: Vestry and BAC members, clergy and staff, church leaders and teachers, boards, convention delegates, and those in your congregation or group who serve at the diocesan level. Encourage those who need to take the training to commit and sign up for workshops that will be offered throughout the rest of the year. (Click here for dates and registration.)