50 states in one year sometimes feels like a never-ending sprint, but in truth it’s a marathon.
As we leave our 10th state in a spirit of celebration with Passover, Easter, MLK’s 50th anniversary, Dave turning 40 and the upcoming launch of a crowdfunding campaign, I figure this is as good a place as any to take a moment to look back before we press on.
The profound transformation we’ve gone through in 2.5 months is astounding. We officially began this journey on Jan 14th at the Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative service at Boston Avenue Methodist Church in Tulsa, OK. An African American pastor stood up that evening and said these words.
“There is a prayer upon our lips that says to God, come here from Heaven and heal our land. And God smiles and says back to us. I will not do all the work. I will require participation of you, because participation is necessary for continuance and for understanding.”
We didn’t fully know it then, but we were being commissioned for this journey that night. It was not planned that way and we certainly could not have orchestrated it, but we found out in that sanctuary as we stood to our feet, hearts pounding and eyes filled with tears, that our small part in the vast work of healing our land had officially begun.
Now, with that pastor’s words still ringing in our ears, it seems fitting to pause and look back on all we’ve gained thus far.
Tulsa, Little Rock, Jackson, New Orleans, Montgomery, Pensacola, Savannah, Charleston, Charlotte, Knoxville. 10 cities, 10 worlds. But the names and faces of those who have stepped into our hearts and rearranged them are etched into our souls forever.
When we began this journey, I thought the divisions facing our nation are rooted in things that are minuscule and easy to overcome. I was wrong. The roots of our divisions are deep, dark and imbedded into the fabric of our culture, and without the supernatural power of genuine empathy and true forgiveness, they are impossible to overcome.
I never would have described myself in a million years as a racist, but I now understand that I was one.
No one had to point this out to me. It became obvious as I became aware of thought patterns and behaviors that reveal my true subconscious attitude toward all kinds of people, let alone people of color.
My awareness of these hidden truths came exactly as I thought it might. Through hearing people’s stories. Stories matter, and they are the missing link between me and everyone I’ve ever subconsciously considered “suspicious.”
The reality is that our subconscious mind is much more likely to affect our actions than our rational, conscious mind, which is always trying so hard to be equitable and virtuous, and believe the best of others.
I’m slowly realizing that true virtue only happens when our subconscious mind moves from suspicion into honor. And that is no small jump since the subconscious mind is conditioned, and can only be adjusted experientially. The good news is that stories can do that; especially when they come in the form of a face to face encounter.
One wise woman I met in Charleston said it best when I asked her what we need to overcome the divisions she has experienced as a woman of color in America. She said all we need is an open heart and and open mind.
This might be sharing a meal with a stranger at the bar, getting honest with your questions when you get your next Uber, choosing to be vulnerable when the opportunity comes, demonstrating to your subconscious mind that this “suspicious” person is not your enemy, but rather could be your friend.
Without the encounters I’ve had on this journey, I’d be lost thinking of racists as “those people over there” rather than understanding its many expressions, some much more subtle than others. Some hiding in my own heart, which could only be exposed by the disarming power of personal encounter.
I’ve found that every story, whether long or short, is like a precious gift, because someone had the courage, even under the eye of suspicion, to give you a little piece of themselves.
Many have asked how we have been changed by the journey so far.
The answer is vast. Too vast for this blog entry. But for now I’ll say this… We no longer consider our life as a kingdom we must build to maintain, protect and advance our general happiness. We’ve found the deepest joy, the richest memories and the greatest heart transformation in becoming and in living smaller.
The road ahead is still long, and our hearts are full as we shift into this next leg of our journey.
It seems fitting as we look back, to do so in celebration of the Passover Lamb, the Resurrection King, the dream of a man named King, who has shaped our mission and purpose, and the beginning of a 4th decade of life for our fearless husband, daddy and best friend.
We treasure the memories of these 10 incredible states so far, and cannot wait to see and to share what awaits us in the next 40.