The Slow Work of Hard Change

The slow philosophy is not about doing everything in tortoise mode. It's less about the speed and more about investing the right amount of time and attention in the problem so you solve it. - Carl Honore

Last weekend was intense as Episcopal Pilgrims from around the country brought passion, smarts and clarity to those of us who are here in Ferguson all of the time. Ahead of the week-end there was a gathering to give shape to a November luncheon combining good food and holiday cheer carrying forward a decades long tradition of casseroles and handmade crafts. Friday on the church parking lot there was a new and shaky bike rider make her wobbly way past the arms of a parent and toward the wooded end of the paved space. Sunday night that parking lot was full of dancing pilgrims doing the Cupid Shuffle and the Wooble. One of the pilgrims graciously taking the time to teach my 61 year old self, another shaky self on our parking lot, how to approximate dancing. In this week's gospel Jesus tells his friends "For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve." Pilgrims, parents and parishioners keep on keepin' on as servants.

Last evening police officers and residents marked the beginning of a long hoped for dialogue in the same place where the pilgrims heard of the School to Prison Pipeline, mass incarceration, the shape of policing set in slavery and carried forward not for the polis but for the protection of the powerful. At the same time in another room some of us crowded together studying Mark's Gospel, that text infused with the terror of living in a time and place where Jesus' following cost a lot. Just ask the Rich Young Man of last week's Gospel. Participants in these hard conversations give up their positional selves to become relational selves. Earlier our friend Gregory comes by to talk about his newest possibility for living indoors as the Fall begins. His worry has lately increased. He learned that an old warrant is outstanding. He can only wish he had some riches. When he had an extra 10 dollars three weeks ago he gave it to me to buy food for our food pantry. Privilege and poverty, vulnerability and authority toggle throughout the many moments of our shared life.

Today I am meeting to meet with a Rabbi and a couple to plan a wedding of two men who have coined the name "broom" to resolve the bride groom binary. Later a pastor whose church lost its building will come to talk about meeting here. Right now that are without the space and place of a gathered people. As you read this a group of 6th graders are sitting in a classroom with an empty desk where their classmate was supposed to be sitting, another family is burying a victim of gun violence and there are legislators working the phones, listening to a constituent whose name appears early and often on their donor list, and hopeful one who has a concern and a suggestion. The work of joining, bridging, make space for love... and sorrow... and potential... is a daily act of faith and will in Ferguson and beyond.

Mother Pollard a community elder and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, who he called "one of the most dedicated participants in the bus protest" is famously quoted as saying "My feets is tired, but my soul is rested."

We go slow. Our feet are tired. Most days there are some moments of rest for people's souls. And the slow work of hard change continues.