This summer I am taking time for rest and rejuvenation. I am especially grateful to the Board and the
congregation which allowed Ranwa Hammamy to serve as our summer minister. I am also taking time to read and listen and to delve into new experiences and ideas to enliven my life and ministry. My hope is that you will take the time to do the same. We live in a world changing around us and some of
the changes present new challenges—one is that people are no longer reading this Beacon and our other publications! So while for years I have asked for reading suggestions—this year I received exactly zero recommendations. More on that in a moment.
In the meantime, I am offering just a short list of my own. In light of the world as it is, consider reading these: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between The World And Me. If you are trying to understand more about the simmering anger which has given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement, this book will add insights. White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise. While flawed in some ways, Wise’s writing offers a perspective into what it means to be a white ally. Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave. This well-constructed and witty novel reminds us of the many costs of war. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. If you haven’t read this 2010 classic, this is the time to do so. You also need to read Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson. These books look at the connection between prisons, a private prison industry and the mass incarceration of black and Latino folks. One of the reason my list is short this year is that reading, as much as it gives us, is still a passive and individual experience. You might even say it is one of the earliest forms of virtual reality.
With the fissures in the human family, what we need are actual, person-to- person experiences. So what I hope is that you will consider taking in a free concert in a park, or playing mini-golf or taking a walk with a group of friends (four and two legged) or volunteering at Trinity Center or attending a Black Lives Matter event or simply sitting on a beach and watching the people and the waves go by.
This life is far from perfect—and yet it needs to be experienced, not just watched on a screen or filtered
through anyone else’s lens. Send a picture of yourself enjoying real life in real time to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I assemble a collection of them to share at our Water communion service the first weekend of September. In the meantime, don’t look away and be real.
In the spirit of hope and possibility, – Leslie