Minister for Disabilities & Mental Health Justice
“Deep solidarity is rooted in love…So I let your story into my heart, even when it is hard. I let your grief become my grief.” – Valarie Kaur, Civil Rights Activist and Founder of the Revolutionary Love Project
Valarie Kaur’s deep brown eyes stare into your soul. And it’s not just me. It’s me plus nearly 1,000 others in the live online audience for Kaur’s keynote address at General Synod 33. Talking with my Conference Minister after the address, we both agreed that – because of Synod’s virtual gathering this year – instead of listening to this prophetic spiritual midwife/warrior sitting on a far-away elevated main stage, we got to listen to her as if she were sitting in our own home, because she was. Valarie sat in her home and stared into our homes through the screen, speaking words of comfort, challenge, passion, and wisdom.
Valarie looked into our souls, and we looked into hers. She invited us into the secret chambers of her heart and challenged us to do the same, opening our hearts to one another – when it is safe to do so. Valarie also gave us permission to guard our hearts as part of the work of justice, especially when we need to preserve our own wellbeing and to heal. We don’t have to give our love away when doing so harms us. This is wisdom.
As a church we can make a commitment to do no harm. We seek to do no harm when we engage in the work of justice rooted in revolutionary love, rooted in solidarity, rooted in deep respect for the stories and grief of others.
What if this is what it means to be the Church? What if co-creating Beloved Community means taking time to listen and honor the hard, complicated, and messy stories of one another?
The work of justice is more of an art than a science. Valarie modeled for us what it means to do the work of justice rooted in revolutionary love. It’s heart work. It’s love work. It’s birth work. It’s warrior work. It’s joyful work. It’s the work of the Church. Thanks be to God.
Rev. Dr. Sarah Lund is the Minister for Disabilities and Mental Health Justice for the United Church of Christ.