We are a diverse gathering of clergy dedicated to reading sacred texts through an Anti-Racist and Anti-Supremacist lens. 

Marys Treasures with Min. Candace Simpson

Marys Treasures with Min. Candace Simpson

“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”

My favorite scene in “The Grinch” is when he goes on a rant about the “noise.” It’s an ugly image. Whining. Eyes rolled. Face twisted. He just cannot take the noise.

The noise.

The chatter.

The yapping. The talking. The comments. The stories. The feelings. The updates. The notifications. The alerts.

Sometimes we have to turn away from the noise. Sometimes the noise doesn’t make us informed. Sometimes the noise sends us into unhealthy spirals.

In the moments I feel overwhelmed by the noise, I want to be visited by Mary’s wisdom.

“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”

Movements for liberation require a strong base of people.They require that we are well enough to pick up the phone and have a conversation with people whom we share community. They require strong relationships. Deep bonds. We should be so close to one another that we notice each other’s “I’m okay” lies. We should be so in touch that we know when to give each other space and when to show up with wine and a working Netflix password.

But what so many of us have learned, firsthand and the hard way, is that this present moment is killing us. We’re stuck on our phones waiting to see what’s going to be announced next, screenshotting and snarkily responding to That Man’s tweets, posting updates, calling congresspeople, phone zapping prisons, organizing actions, collecting money, crowdfunding money, sending money, not having money, hating money… And the People* are not well.  

*Me. I’m the people.

We’re supposed to do those things. These are good things to do. And when they are the only thing we do, I can tell you, they make us ill. They make us snap at partners and loved ones. They make us so angry that we cannot have the life we are so desperately fighting for.

I get Mary. I get why after all the noise she might just want to ponder. Or meditate. Or retreat. Or unplug. I can imagine why she might just want to pause after having a baby, meeting with many guests, hearing the prophecy on his life and just generally existing at that time and place. After all, this is the woman who just gave us a protest hymn a few verses prior. This is a woman who knew that, even in suspicious circumstances, that she was going to raise a socially conscious baby. This is the woman who knows that this child’s life is all part of the hope to “bring down the powerful from their thrones”  and “lift up the lowly.”

In the song of praise called “The Magnificat,” Mary makes sense of the life forming within her. You might even say she’s “speaking over” this baby. She says in her song of praise, “he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” Now perhaps Mary was talking about God, but she may have also been prophysing-imagining the ministry that Jesus might embody. Mary feels Black to me. She feels like an Afrofuturist. Dreaming and hoping for what must happen today. Using blueprints and mistakes of yesterday. Unlocking possibilities of tomorrow.

So basically, Mary knew.

And she knows enough to know that sometimes, you cannot respond to each and everything. In fact, that’s how The Powers keep us chugging in the machine. Toni Morrison once said,

“The function, the very serious function of racism, is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language, so you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly, so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Someone says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary. There will always be one more thing.”

There will always be one more thing. One more thing that needs a response. One more project to work on. Mary helps me see that sometimes a faithful response is treasuring and pondering. That itself is action. I want to commit to a more balanced and healthy life. I cannot always be “on.” I need spaces to rejuvenate and dream. And I need to give myself permission to do those things. I am not less of a committed freedom fighter because I pause. I must carve out spaces to think, to reflect, to be. I can’t overexert myself all day, come home to a bubble bath and wine, and do it all over again tomorrow. Self-care is not an excuse to kill myself for the movement. Self-care, and community care, must be a reminder that I am human first. I am not a machine, attack dog, institution or icon. I am a human being. And I deserve to have my humanity and tenderness honored. I get to be a human! ME! In all of my Black Queer Womanhood. I get to be a human.

Today, I’m grateful for the vision of Mary.

“But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”

What do you treasure? What are you pondering?

Bear Fruit Worthy of Repentance with Rev. Emily Joye

Bear Fruit Worthy of Repentance with Rev. Emily Joye