“What has been seen cannot be unseen, what has been learned cannot be unknown. You cannot change the past, but you can learn from it. You can grow from it. You can be made stronger. You can use that strength to change your life, to change your future.”
– C.A. Woolf
A few weeks ago Lori and I went on an incredible adventure. Along with a bus of 40+ people of varying ages, communities, congregations and ethnic and cultural backgrounds we participated in what is called “Journey 2 Mosaic”. It was a journey in which we heard and experienced firsthand the lives and stories from the perspectives of several different ethnic groups. While I can’t begin to use words to describe the experience that I am still processing, I can tell you that those words from Woolf keep ringing in my ear.
As I sit here reflecting on the experience again, I am flooded with sorrow as I recall stories from Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos and more. The sorrow has a place and I am sitting in that sorrow still, and wrestling with it. So many stories I had not heard. So many stories that are separate and yet connected. Similar and yet different. Stories that I can not change. But I can learn from them. I can grow from them. I can be made stronger.
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
– Revelation 7:9, 16-17
God created His children in His image, every “nation, tribe, people and language”. I am so thankful for the diversity with which God painted His creation, and I know that I have work ahead of me as I lean into that diversity with new knowledge, seeking to change my own heart, thoughts, patterns and actions. And hopefully, in some small way change the world. There will be challenges, resistance, and persecution. As I also experienced during the Journey 2 Mosaic, there will be joy, exuberance, and celebration. And maybe reconciliation.
“We must go back to reclaim our past so we can move foward,
so we can understand why and how we came to be who we are today.”
– meaning of “San-ko-fa”, an Akan (Ghanaian) word, part of the artwork at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Seattle