Daily Devotions
Pastor Alice Connor
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Daily Devotion

When my book How to Human came out, one of my tasks was to try to do some grass-roots marketing. Noticing that the list of folks I wanted to contact was full of white people, I thought to myself, “You could connect with some of your black friends who are more active on social media and see if they’d be interested in reading and sharing.” Among those folk, I messaged a friend and former student Alexander about their interest. They were thrilled and did warn me that they’re sometimes a slow reader. I assured them that was fine, had the book sent, and off we went. A few months later I checked in on them, “I’m sorry, it’s taking me a while to read. In the meantime,” they said, “Can you share with me why you wanted me in particular to read it?”

From a good place in my soul but not understanding or considering what I was really saying, I said, “I respect your work for social justice and mindfulness immensely and I believe this book speaks universally to people across race and class. I’d love to hear what you think as a black person and for you to share it with folks I don’t know.” (You know, even in writing this down right now, I cringe a bit, and also am reporting it to you in rosier terms than probably I actually wrote then.) Perhaps you read that and thing, “Sure, that sounds fair.” And, in theory, it is. But.

It’s not that my friend’s experience and race aren’t important, but I wanted their imprimatur on the book, their stamp of “black approval.” And I was naïve to think that the book speaks across race in the universal way that I did. It doesn’t. Of course there are exceptions—lots of black, indigenous, and people of color have read it and taken something helpful away—but it was very much written from my white perspective and to an audience sharing that perspective. I speak about institutional racism in the book and direct my comments to those of us who have the privilege to do something about it.

My point here is that I am constantly learning. What a gift that is even as it is also painful! To have my eyes opened to even a tiny thing I could do in a kinder way or simply with more understanding of the situation is such a blessing.

I wonder what you’ve learned about the world since the pandemic started? What have you learned about your own behavior or intentions? What have you begun practicing (or what could you begin practicing) to shift into a new spiritual place?

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«October 2021»

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