Learning to Blot: The Preciousness of Place
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Good morning! Our team has been thinking a lot this fall about Seeing the City and about what it looks like to be aware of our physical reality—our bodies, the little patches of land we inhabit, our communities—as places where God does healing work in and through us as we engage life.
Today, we want to share a quick thought with you about this idea of “embodiment” in our “place.”
The thought comes from the book we’ve been reading at our book club, Dear White Peacemakers. There’s a part where author Osheta Moore speaks of her own southern heritage as well as the unique part that white southern women play in the racial peacemaking work.
Her words call us to notice our place. She reminds us that location matters: “When you, in your social location of the South, do this work of anti-racism, you are right in the thick of this battle. The South has been the place of the fight for Black dignity’s greatest casualties and victories…Because so much of our country’s imagination about white supremacy involves the things they’ve seen in the South, You, southern White Peacemaker, have a specific calling to write a better future.” (p. 231)
She goes on to tell a story of a “truly healing” interaction with a white southern woman, after a racial incident during which Moore was frightened because she had been followed and threatened. Because of the literal and figurative place from which her white southern friend spoke her words, Moore experienced healing. She was again, “Free to love my southernness. Free to be at peace.”
There is something precious about our place, the South, even when this place carries a festering wound of sin, like racism, that even still affects how we and others experience life. Our place is our home, the dwelling place God created for us to know him and to learn to love. Our place is unique on this earth. Atlanta, the South, holds stories of grace and of pain, love and of violence, hope and fear, just as our individual lives are stories with the same themes. Sin runs deep. Love runs deeper. For us and for our communities.
The Psalms acknowledge how big sin can get. “Our sins are stronger than we are,” says Psalm 65:3. Just like the sin in our hearts come from deep places and cannot be eliminated through effort or understanding, the sin in our place comes from deep places and is stronger than we are.
We cannot overcome the sin in our places, but we can be attentive to how God is moving to engage and remove sin, and we can connect our stories to God’s movements in our places.
The same Psalm talks about God’s method of sin-removal. “But you will blot them out,” continues the verse.
Stop here for a moment.
When was the last time you spilled wine on a linen tablecloth, or your child skinned a knee and blood fell on someone’s white pants, or you dribbled ketchup on a silk blouse?
When this happens, we blot. We hold our precious garment, the item we value and cherish, and we go to work slowly, gently, attentively blotting the stain…dampening the cleaning cloth…holding a rag behind the part that is soiled to absorb the darkness…doing it again…taking care that the fibers aren’t rubbed too hard. We are so careful with our blotting. We are so aware of the preciousness of the cloth that we clean. Our goal is to restore the stained material, whole and crisp, with its integrity intact.
God is blotting the stains of sin in our hearts and in our places. While we would love for the ills of our place, especially the ravages of racism, to be able to be tossed in a washing machine, tumbled hard, and removed without effort, God’s care in our place often looks different. It looks like careful blotting and tending to something precious, deeply careful to maintain the inherent worth and beauty of what has been soiled.
May we be women who carry peace to our places today because, alongside God, we value their preciousness and beauty. And may we be women who carry healing to our places today because, alongside God, we recognize the restorative value of a steady work of grace.
The Kaleid Team