I’ve had plenty to write about these past six months but by the time I went to sit down at my laptop the energy and enthusiasm had waned. I’ve just passed my two year anniversary of retirement from employed work. I’ve been “refired” instead of “retired” and have focused on things that are important to me or give me joy:
Teaching, including a course I’ve developed for Seabury-Bexley’s Pathways for Baptismal Living that offers training in the requirements to be a licensed Lay Catechist in the Episcopal Church; mentoring an EfM group; and co-facilitating a youth confirmation class at my parish.
Learning. In the Spring of 2021 I joined others from my parish in taking the Sacred Groundcurriculum offered by The Episcopal Church. A group of us have continued to meet via Zoom, reading books and exploring how we can make a difference in action and awareness regarding racism in our communities. We are in the preliminary stages of bring The Witness Stones Project to our town through a collaboration of interfaith partners.
Genealogy has always an interest of mine; I have pretty much cataloged all my relatives from both the parents’ side and husband’s side. That’s a lot of generations going back to Anglo-Saxon areas of Europe: England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and Scandinavia. And I’ve got my DNA now to prove it. Most of my (and John’s) ancestors either settled in the British colonies (now New England in the U.S.) in the 17th century.
This past Sunday’s lectionary reading from the Old Testament was the story from Genesis 32: 22-31 of Jacob “wrestling with an angel.” My parish had a guest preacher, the Rev. Dr. Don Hamer, who is part of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut’s Racial Justice, Healing, and Reconciliation Network. Don pondered Jacob’s anxiety and stress as he prepared to meet Esau, the brother whose birthright he had stolen twenty years earlier. Then Don delved into the meaning of “birthright” from a biblical standpoint followed by how we, as Americans, have a birthright as stated in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. That is – those of us who are white have received the benefits of this birthright – the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our siblings of color were never intended to be part of this inheritance. I don’t do his sermon justice with this summary, so listen to it here before reading further.
As I contemplated Don’s words, I “wrestled” with one of the projects that have been occupying my time over these past months: my ancestors. Many of them fought (and died) in King Philip’s War, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War (for the North) as well as all the wars that have followed. They fought for freedom as good Christian men (yes, it was a patriarchy). They purchased property, built new towns that are now cities, and farmed the land. The American dream. My heritage.