An Invitation in the Physical
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
For Atlanta, it’s been another excruciating weekend. There is pain in our city, and we are witnessing a bubbling up and boiling over.
As you know, we’ve been exploring two simultaneous paths this summer--a contemplative path of prayer for ourselves, others, and our city, alongside a path of exploring what it means to be white as we seek to participate in racial healing. This week, these two conversations reveal that our physical lives are spaces of powerful, even spiritual, work.
The topic in our Be the Bridge 101 group this week is “White Fragility.” This term was coined by Dr. Robin D’Angelo, an educator, who asserts that because white people in America have grown up in environments that are largely insulated from racial stress, when they encounter it, it provokes strong emotions that can prevent them from remaining in a posture of willingness to learn, grow, and participate in racial healing. Fundamentally, white fragility involves the visceral reactions that white people sometimes experience when race comes up.
Our physical impulses--the fight, flight, or freeze mechanisms that protect us from bears, fires, and car accidents--are “tripped” when we sense danger of any sort, even if it’s the danger of being in a conversation for which we feel entirely unprepared or in which we feel entirely unwelcome. These impulses are natural, but it is helpful to understand them for what they are. Because, when we learn to notice and even welcome our physical reactions of fear, anger, guilt, or frustration within conversations about race, we grow our endurance muscles. We allow our physical reactions to invite us into more elasticity, more patience, and more grace for a growing understanding of race. It is ok to feel amped up about it, and it is ok to learn to grow through the discomfort rather than walking away.
The topic in our contemplative time this week is imaginative prayer. This type of prayer is a method by which we read a passage of scripture--particularly a Jesus story--by putting ourselves into the setting. So, for instance, in the story of the woman at the well, we might read the story imagining ourselves as the woman, then read it imagining ourselves as the disciples, then as the townspeople, and then even as Jesus. Each time, we connect with our five senses and try to look, listen, and feel our way into the story. As we sink ourselves into the physical realities of the narrative, we invite the Holy Spirit to lead us into the meaning of the text that God has for us in our real lives, today.
Jesus was God made flesh. God with taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. God with emotions, thoughts, visceral reactions and hard conversations. Imaginative prayer invites us to know Jesus in this way and to experience a merciful connection whereby our physical lives remind us of what is true and what is still being revealed about God’s faithful love, today, in the world.
And so, we hope you’ll be encouraged even in this very hard season in our city. We hope that you’ll remember your body with its visceral reactions and its ability to connect to a story as an important gift. Because it is. It is a guide to show us where we are entering important new conversation-spaces and it is a vessel by which we enter more deeply into the story of Christ’s God-with-us redemptive work in our lives, our homes, and in our city.
We appreciate you all.
The Kaleid Team
P.S. - Here’s a link to the imaginative prayer we did together last week.