Simon of Cyrene

When I eulogized my mother 2 weeks ago, I inherited nothing at all and everything I could hope for. She left me her faith, her books, and her curiosity. While I grew up in a neighborhood flooded with Oliver North’s drugs, we had a Tandy computer and dial up. We had encyclopedias. She set us up well to be the educated poor. 

I  can stretch to imagine that I inherited public education and unrestricted travel on open roads. That myth was in question when I hopped on the bus for the hour and a half ride across town to get to a “good school” where I was spat on by a white student (1996).  It was demolished when, on my way to church, I was pulled from my car and searched for drugs that weren’t there (1997). I was shocked to learn that the “payment plan” for the speeding ticket was actually probation. The education system and the roads and highways aren’t mine. 

The descendants of enslaved Africans have carried a tremendous burden for the prosperity of White America. That emotional and spiritual knowing is in my body, in my soul. I learn, and drive, and love, and rest with that ever-present knowing. My vision of a new economy of shared ownership holds in mind the vantage point of Simon of Cyrene. Face pressed against the pillars of empire, yet very near to the embodiment of resurrection power. I’m here, in the commons of church and online spaces, with splintered hands, no longer carrying the burden alone but within a loving community. 

Today, I invest my prayer, money, and skills in places where communities have a vision of justice and shared ownership – particularly in Atlanta, GA. My cross-cultural appointment in NC reminds me of the interpersonal work, the emotional intelligence, and the spiritual formation that’s required for this new reality. Love creates true, holistic prosperity.

PROMPT 1 PART 2

XCreative Spaces

REFLECTION SCRIPT: LOVE

I inherited more than I revealed in my original post. Along with faith, books, and curiosity, I also inherited love.  

My mother didn’t finish high school. In 1959, she dropped out to marry my father – her husband of 61 years. After the last of their 8 children graduated from high school, she went back. She earned her bachelors and master’s degrees and taught for 20 years in the Dekalb County School System. She beat racism and patriarchy. She must have inherited love. 

It was Malcolm’s provocative self-love, and Martin’s radical, Christic love for self and others. They, together, birth justice. 

Genesis 18:32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

I can do cross-cultural work because of love. 

Tomorrow, I’ll meet with parishioners who, against any wisdom, will likely want to gather in person to worship. I’ll show up with love and present imaginative alternatives. 

1 person, who loves justice, can keep a community from self-destruction.  

We are in a kairos moment where evil power structures are weakened and people of good will are intentional about imagining and implementing alternatives that consider the vulnerable and make the disenfranchised whole. That requires a “revival” of sorts.

I am the missionary, not the savior.

I feel sadness and anger and joy as I write. I think that’s how love feels. Without it, no “new economy” will benefit the last, lost, least, left over, left out, and left behind.

6 thoughts on “Simon of Cyrene

  1. D’Andre: the rawness of your loss speaks out in these words, and then seems to disappear. What else might it have to give you when you’re ready to explore it? What else might we all have to learn from your mother?

    The juxtaposition of your cross-cultural work with being spat on is so fertile and Christic. Have you written about that?

    Eli

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  2. D’Andre, thank you for this. You say so much in such few words, it’s poetry.
    “Love creates true, holistic prosperity.”

    What does it feel like when you’re writing?

    Were there any new insight from drawing the picture about XCreative Spaces?

    What wisdom might 25-year-old D’Andre offer you today as he reads this?

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  3. D’Andre – the first line about your mother is itself a beautiful eulogy. There are gifts we receive that are worth so much more than money.

    “The descendants of enslaved Africans have carried a tremendous burden for the prosperity of White America.” I felt this in my bones. As an African-American, a lot of emotions came up for me as I was reading your post. What emotions did you feel while writing it?

    In the map you posted, repair is mentioned. What does that look like?

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  4. D’Andre it’s good to read your writing again. I’m really sorry to hear about your mom.

    The image of Simon of Cyrene is a powerful one – one conscripted into carrying another’s burden. The experience of Black Americans carrying the burden of white prosperity. What has it meant to choose to share in others’ burdens, including among your white parishioners, amidst that unchosen burden sharing? Where is the sense of resurrection in that work?

    What is the content of the “spiritual formation” needed to bring about the justice side of the equation? What personal or communal rituals/practices are involved in that formation?

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  5. D’Andre, each time I read your post I notice more depth and insight. You are no doubt an excellent preacher given how much feeling you can convey with so few words. I am sorry for the loss of your mother (all death is difficult, but in my experience there’s nothing like losing one’s mother).

    A few observations and questions:
    Your mom “set you up well to be the educated poor.” I am struck by putting those two words together — educated and poor. On the one hand I grew up hearing “Jesus said the poor will always be with you” to justify current poverty. I also often heard that “education is the key to eradicating poverty.” There may be some truth in each statement, but I don’t believe either that poverty is inevitable or that education is the cure all. Why do you put these words together? What might poverty and education have to do with your current vision?

    You bring up education again when you observe that “the education system and the roads and highways aren’t mine.” What is your path? What is “yours”? What is the mode of transportation on your journey? Where is there danger? Where can you find some safety today? Who are your allies on that journey?

    I greatly appreciate your post and look forward to more conversation in our group. Thank you.

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