Friday, August 18, 2017
An eNote from Darryl
Brothers and Sisters,
This week I’ve been reflecting through prayer and conversation about last week’s protest in Charlottesville and I want to share with you some words from Rev. Jason Knott (Florida Annual Conference).
This is a picture of the “apartheid monster” monument that stands outside Constitution Hill in South Africa. I took this picture when I went to South Africa to study racial reconciliation, and upon seeing this monument I was overwhelmed by sadness and hope. If you notice, the “monument” represents the grotesque apartheid era of South Africa, swallowing up people in its path of destruction. Racism, segregation, apartheid is a monster. However, if you look closer, the monster is made of wood – it won’t last forever. The evils of apartheid are still visible but are passing away. The “monument” was also built to look like it is falling over. It is passing away. It is rotting. It is a reminder of pain and hope as you make your pilgrimage up the hill to the Constitutional Court where a new South Africa reigns. The country’s history of apartheid is not forgotten but also not idolized. You cannot escape the pain of the past, but facing the monster who reigned from the past dead on, you are filled with hope for what could be. This artwork tells the truth of history and glimpses the future with hope.
Now, South Africa is not perfect, and they are still a country that struggles with racism. But, as this monument depicts, they have faced their demons of racism face to face. In the U.S. we have neglected to face our monsters of racism face to face for far too long. We’ve allowed them to keep living, keep breathing, keep standing, keep memorialized. What if we could creatively tell the truth the way this monument does? What if we could create something that seeks to bring reconciliation by way of truth telling? Peace is not the avoidance or absence of conflict, peace is the product of justice and reconciliation.
It’s time that we seek true peace: the peace that the gospel message calls us to seek. A peace forged in the refining fires of true story-telling, justice, and reconciliation. This is a time to be honest and creative. If all the Civil War monuments come crumbling down, that’s fine by me . . . but will we then find peace? Certainly there will be fewer painful reminders of our nation’s sinful history regarding racism . . . but will we find reconciliation?
As painful as these last few days have been watching what a monument can evoke within us, maybe there is some good that can be made from some of it. I am in NO WAY proposing that Civil War monuments remain standing, but what happens when they’re gone? Will we be seeking a false sense of peace through avoidance or absence?
This isn’t meant to be an “armchair advocacy” post, but a charge to create. What can we build TOGETHER, CREATIVELY, to tell of our nation’s painful past and hopeful future? Let’s walk towards the mess – the injustice, the pain, the hate, the false ideology, the heresies that haunt us – and we just might find on the other side that we’ve made a space for reconciliation. Let’s use our imaginations to change our broken images. Let’s create something that seeks to create a new future. Let’s seek true peace.
I would like to remind you that on Sunday August 20th we’ll be collecting school supplies for Red Wagon Sunday. Supplies needed can be found here (link). In the first week of September, 3rd – 9th, we have the opportunity to support our homeless/unhoused sisters through Room in the Inn by providing temporary shelter at Trinity, food, fellowship. So I encourage you to pray for these women and this ministry.
Rev. Darryl Dayson
Berry Temple United Methodist Church
Trinity United Methodist Church (Assoc.)