In the living room

Dear President Trump,

How about we stick with the good news theme for now? During the hour between worship services the church staff and those of us on our pastor’s support team threw her a surprise party to celebrate her having finished her Doctor of Ministries degree. I didn’t think we could actually pull it off as a surprise, but we did! There is a large lounge area adjacent to the sanctuary and when she came out of the early service and saw the balloons and all the people clapping for her it was absolutely wonderful; the tears started streaming down her cheeks. In addition to the balloons, cards, gifts, and her favorite cake, most important of all were the people. On a holiday weekend when attendance is usually sparse, a couple hundred people showed up to celebrate her. You know the game people play with little kids where they interlace their fingers and hold their index fingers together in a “steeple” shape and their thumbs are the “doors”? “Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors, and here’s all the people!” Well, that’s what it was like today – “here’s all the people!”

When she took the mic to say a few words she shared how rarely has she received so much support and been shown so much love. She didn’t say it explicitly and I’ll need to check with her another day to find out if my interpretation of her sub-text is correct, but I think she was saying that as a Black girl, woman, scholar, theologian she was often not taken seriously by white people and quite possibly by other Black people, and that to be the recipient of so much enthusiastic public veneration and celebration is foreign to her and thus, pretty uncomfortable. She spoke movingly of how her daughter was always there for her, encouraging her to take risks and pursue her dreams. She recalled key teachers along the way who inspired her and believed in her. She told us how her doctoral dissertation work is about disenfranchised people moving in from the gate to the porch and now here she is in the living room with everyone. Indeed, she has moved right into the heart of our community and in the process has flung the doors wide open so we are increasingly able to say “and here’s ALL the people!”

May we all be safe to shine.
May we all be happy for folks to come on in.
May we all join together to tangibly support one another’s health.
May we all pitch in to build the beloved community.

Tracy Simpson

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