ANTIRACIST ADJUSTMENT FOR THE WEEK OF 10/25/2020
“What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8
In his book “My Grandmother’s Hands”, author Resmaa Menakem explores how racial trauma resides within our bodies and influences our survival reactions. He defines trauma as the body’s protective response to an event that overwhelms the body’s sense of safety. It is a spontaneous protective mechanism used to stop or thwart further or future potential damage. After traumatic situations, a reflexive reaction may be embedded in our bodies. Since the body views its safety or danger as physical visceral sensation, survival instincts may manifest as fight, flee or freeze actions. The body’s form of communication occurs instantaneously using a sense of constriction/expansion, pain/ease or energy/numbness to trigger the lizard part of our brain which evaluates danger and safety. Menakem points out that our cognitive brain doesn’t get the opportunity to evaluate a piece of sensory input unless our lizard brain lets it through. The trauma of “whiteness” culture doesn’t live in our thinking brains but in the nervous system and cells of our bodies.
So along with all the numerous practical ways Menakem outlines to engage a process of repair for black bodies, white bodies and police bodies, what spiritual practices can help to uncover the racial traumatic sensations embedded in our tissues? Lectio divina, according to Cynthia Bourgeault in her book “The Wisdom Way of Knowing”, is traditionally used as a “heart to heart” encounter between your own being and a biblical text. It’s a practice that lends itself to a home setting and to a flexible schedule. With a quiet reading space and maybe fifteen uninterrupted minutes, you are good to go. Your intention is to ingest the passage at a deeper spiritual level and to become aware of whatever arises. I have found this practice helpful for a deeper dive into any text including “My Grandmother’s Hands”. If a paragraph or two is causing a defensive reaction try doing lectio divina with it. Read the chosen passage slowly and aloud if possible. Notice what bodily sensations arise and their location within your body. No judgment or analysis just notice and let them go. Read the passage aloud a second time and notice what emotions are triggered and then let them go. For the third reading, pay attention to any thoughts that get your attention and then let them go. Finish with a few minutes of simply resting in God. May you be blessed with the gentle release of the racial trauma within your being.
Daily morning intention:
Open my heart Loving Presence so that I may feel your Divine guidance to greater awareness of racial inequity and to my antiracist role this day.
(submitted by Pat Deeney, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Trenton NJ, firstname.lastname@example.org)