This past week I had a serendipitous moment while shopping for groceries. No kidding!
In the produce department a gentleman stopped me and asked if I was a past president of the seminary where I taught and was dean. I laughed and said no way! I’d been professor and dean, but never president. Nor did I ever aspire to that office.
He laughed with me, and said he’d heard me speak at the seminary. He even remembered what I talked about. I was astonished. He wasn’t one of our students. Today he’s a pastor in this area, and is African American.
In the early 1990s the seminary was challenged by the Rodney King event. Because I was being promoted with tenure, I’d been asked to give the opening academic year address. My title and text were from Psalm 23, “In the Presence of My Enemies.” What did we need to do to begin coming to terms with our overt, covert and unrecognized racism?
The bottom line was simple. According to Psalm 23, we’re invited to a table prepared by God. There’s only one hitch. This table is prepared “in the presence of my enemies.” Not God’s enemies, but mine–whether real or perceived. Furthermore, there’s no clear reason to think my real and perceived enemies aren’t included at this table.
So now that we’re sitting at this table prepared for us (the seminary), who’s going to speak first? Who’s willing to break the silence so we can begin getting to know and perhaps better understand and support each other?
This morning I’m thinking about what’s happening all over this world, especially right here in my small territory. I believe God has prepared a table for me in the presence of my enemies–whether real or perceived.
So who’s willing to go first? Am I? How important is it to me? Otherwise, why am I taking up space at the table?
Events of today and last week make this a not so happy Monday. Yet the presence of our Creator in the territory means there’s more going on than meets the eye. Am I, are we, up to the challenge of daring to speak first? Not to talk about others, but to listen to each other and to ourselves. After all, it’s our Creator’s territory, not ‘mine’ or ‘yours.’
Happy Monday, despite the news and noise of the hour!
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 January 2020
Image found at pinterest.com