The last “part” of our pilgrimage involving the Whitney Plantation transpired this weekend. It was in two-parts, and I was so glad we chose to be in both events on Saturday that took place at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral in Mobile, AL.
The first was a service of repentance. There are not words adequate enough to describe the beauty and power of that service. In a time when most white Americans, and a LOT of white American Christians ask, “Repent for what?”, this group chose to repent. It was to ask forgiveness for the past. It was to acknowledge the past, the FULL past… not just the nostalgia we like to wallow in.
It was to recognize, for the Episcopal Church, that their history involved being the “church” of slave owners. It was to recognize that many of their structures were built on slave labor and money garnered from industries using enslaved workers. It was to ask forgiveness. It was to ask forgiveness for silence in times when we can indeed speak up. We are still complicit in so many ways .
After the service was a lunch where we sat with fellow believers from Black churches and heard their stories and shared our hope for what can happen moving forward.
Those on the pilgrimage to the Whitney Plantation then gathered after lunch to process (in a very short amount of time) what we felt in our trip to the plantation. It was a time to make connections and find ways to stay connected. It was to grieve together, mourn together, and hope together.
In this weekend I have found my Lenten meditation and my spiritual hunger in pilgrimage coming together. While I have some solid action plans to carry me forward in ways I had been searching for, I also realized that these four to five years in Alabama were now bearing fruit I had not noticed before. My wife brought them out.
In my Lenten meditation I was camped in Isaiah 58 and branching out from there using cross references. The power of “fasting” is not in the absence of food, but in the action of setting people free. I was seeing that in my own life. The action had not been in some advocacy or political action. It was in being with people not like me, hearing their stories, and becoming friends. I was on a journey of change and what my wife pointed out to me as we left Christ Church yesterday was we could just keep doing what we are doing. Love people. Hear their stories. Join in their journeys.
The pilgrimage is about listening. It is about sacred moments and sacred spaces. I found that in these past weeks with this group. The journey keeps going. There will be more pilgrimages. I am finding the path the Spirit has for me at this point in my life. I am grateful.