home: month 5

Read the whole series on home here.

When I have been home

What can home be to those who are weary?

I write this particular writing in the wake of multiple mass shootings that have taken place in vastly different cities, neighborhoods, and locations. I write this in the wake of aggression that has been on the rise. I write this thinking so agonizingly over Ralph Yarl and Jordan Neely. My aches ache at this point. Do Black boys deserve the right to live and flourish in this nation that has been dubbed the “land of the free and the home of the brave?” I write this knowing that covid has taken so much from us all. Nobody has been left unaffected by the turmoil and disease we have encountered. Neither have we been immune to the ways in which humanity has been lessened in our dealings with one another.

What becomes of weary souls

Tired, yet still here. I confess that I would not open an essay on what home could be with painting a picture of how morbid things are currently. As a Black man living here, I am frightened though. I cannot deny it. There is a faintness within that both resides in the mess of today and points towards days that are lighter, days that are injected with hope. I will tell you that almost every day for almost two decades I have risen early, usually before the sun rises in the sky, to meditate, to pray, to reflect, to drink my cup of coffee or tea. In these early morning hours, I have learned that though the world frightens me, and will roar at me to be productive, to deny my feelings, to be a commodity…there is a rest for me. I have recently thought to myself that all of these mornings mean something. That in my attempts to steady myself I have been making a home for myself. Internally. In the parts of me that nobody else can see.

“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” J.R.R. Tolkein

Once there was a gift given to a young hobbit. A light that promised to shine in days that were darkened and confusing. I call up this imagery now as I think about the home that I have built for myself and the home that is possible for those who have seen wearying days. Those who have cried their tears in the night. I think about the promise that there will be a day where people will learn “war no more.” (Isaiah 2:4) In that day I believe, maybe naively, that there will be a peace between us that will be the healing that we have all desired for. That sense that the night has passed us by and that different days await us. I do think about what it will be like to laugh with others without crushing insecurity or anxiety. Where my Blackness isn’t a barrier to love and support. Where disabled people are nurtured and loved. Where bodies are sacred. Where love is shared so freely that it feels intoxicating. Where poetry is read aloud three times a day and light jazz music lovingly soothes. Where souls that are exhausted from struggle can take a deep breath and lie down on beds of pure safety.

I have thought of these beautiful days for much of my life. This imagination was fostered when I was an atheist as I would dream of days that weren’t marked by the poverty and dysfunction, I grew up in. As a man who has vastly different beliefs than I once did, I think about the peace and consider that this is the home that I wish to create now, even if it is in pieces. Home can be safe. Home can be peaceful. Home can be a refuge in the storm.

Robert (he/him) is a runner, musician, and a Black theologian committed to softness, contemplation, and liberation for all. As a recent seminary graduate (with distinction), Robert studied in depth the intersection of Black Liberation Theology and womanist theology. Weaving together these two strands of liberation have been important work as well as other liberation based theologies. “How can we help facilitate community and provide answers to a hurting world that is reeling?” remains an important question in his work. While in school, Robert’s scholarly work was recognized and presented at various national conferences/outlets. Podcasting (two shows) and writing remain important aspects of his daily life as well as marathoning the latest Star Trek show(s).

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