Taking risks where we are

By Rev. Anna Blaedel

Prentis Hemphill likes to begin episodes of their podcast Finding Our Way with the question: How would you describe where we are right now? As a writer, healer, and Somatic practitioner, they invite us to always begin our assessment of where we are–spiritually, politically, relationally–by paying attention to our bodies. Our bodies–our enfleshed lives–are the place our stories reside, and thus where we can access different stories for who and how we might become. Our healing and transformation, Hemphill offers, are how we realize the world we want, and vision, and need.

Where, dear one, are you right now?

Where, dear ones, are we right now?

Pause. Breathe. Our bodies tend not to speak at the race pace so often shaping our lives.

Pause. Breathe. What do you feel? How would you describe where you are, where we are, right now? How are healing and transformation moving in and through and around you?

Elyse Ambrose, Black queer ethicist and enfleshed board member invites us to listen into our bodies, and locate where in our bodies courage and humility reside. Courage and humility are the foundations of risk, Elyse reminds. Practicing courage and humility, always both together, is how we take the risks that are necessary for our spiritual and emotional and political transformation. Spirit calls us into transformation; transformation is impossible without risk. “Intimacy, freedom, liberation–they all call us to risk,” Elyse offers. “Risk is a leap of faith. That leap takes courage. That faith–suspended in the air, in the not yet, in the unknown, and in the liminal–requires humility.”

How are you cultivating courage?

How are you cultivating humility?

Barbara Smith, foundational shaper of Black feminist thought and activism, notes that joining together with others to engage the work of transformation is always risky. “Take that risk,” she testifies, “doing work on the ground where you live.”

It is always risky to open to each other–to work together, live together, dream together, heal together. It can feel risky even to acknowledge, honestly, holding complexity, where we are right now. Jennifer Nash writes about Black feminist conceptions of love as a unifying political principle; love is a practice of tending to the deep responsibilities to each other, our interdependent connections that bind our fates and futures to each other. “It is risky,” Nash acknowledges, “to view one’s self as bound up with others and to fully accept the responsibility and potential peril that are entailed in embracing and practicing a worldview of linked fate. But this is the visionary call of black feminist love-politics–a radical embrace of connectedness.”

Where are we right now?

Where do we want to be?

What courage, and what humility, can help us transform here into there, now into then, for the sake of a more livable linked fate?

In a prompt for Stardust and Salt: Daily Creative Practice, Alexis Pauline Gumbs notes, “I may look like an individual but actually I am intimate evidence of a system in relation. My creator heart, my internal navigator, my place of listening, my mother clock, there is a lot going on here, oversimplified into the unit of one life…The consistency of daily practice,” Gumbs claims, “gives me space to study my multiplicity, my internal differences before the world of interpreters tell their stories about this energy interaction also known as ‘me.’”

Daily practices–meditation or prayer, centering in Spirit and life, paying attention to breath and and body–help us know where we are. They help us deepen into the courage and humility to risk becoming, transforming from where we are into a future where we can all be, and breathe, free.

I invite you to receive the gift of this meditation offered by Elyse, and practice with it. The Courage and Humility of Risk, linked just below. Courage and humility are how we open into our own wisdom, and the wisdom of others–Sacred wisdom–wisdom that is ancient, ancestral, emerging.

How would you describe where you are right now?

How would you describe where we are right now?

Breathe, center, listen: boldness and curiosity, defiance and tenderness: calling us to become.

May it be so.

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Rev. Anna Blaedel is theologian-in-residence at enfleshed. They bring an attentiveness to the intersections of academic, activist, and ecclesial engagement. Anna nourishes students through campus ministry for the University of Iowa Wesley Center and is enrolled in a PhD program in Theological and Philosophical Studies at Drew University’s Graduate Division.

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