by Steve Matthews

Sometimes when I need a time of reflection, I que up “Pray as You Go.”  PAYG is a daily online resource produced by Scottish Jesuits. It offers daily readings on scripture, some prayerful music, and often something thoughtful to ponder.  Earlier this week, the lectio divina was based on the conversation with Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3:1-8). The line that jumped out at me was, “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born anew.”  

I grew up in a very judgmental evangelical environment so the term “born anew” or “born again” does not invoke life-giving images. In the reflection that followed the PAYG readings, I tried to ponder these words and concepts and my reaction to them.  About an hour later I found a post on Facebook from White Eagle, Hopi indigenous dated March 16, 2020 (just at the start of the pandemic).  White Eagle is talking about seeing the approaching pandemic as fodder for a vision quest.  Regarding vision quests she writes, 

Allow yourself to take advantage of this time to perform your vision seeking rituals. What world do you want to build for you? For now, this is what you can do: serenity in the storm. Calm down, pray every day. Establish a routine to meet the sacred every day.

Good things emanate; what you emanate now is the most important thing. And sing, dance, resist through art, joy, faith and love.
Resist – Be reborn

There’s that word again, “reborn.”  What images/memories/meanings do these words have for you?  I am realizing that they don’t have to be static for me.  As I have reread John 3:1-8 this week and the message from White Eagle, I find myself reflecting on the communal and personal trauma I have experienced in the past year.  I am ready to be re-born and ready to nurture new life in those around me and in the communities where I am embedded.  I want to join a community that sings, dances, resists through art, joy, faith and love. I also need to emanate this energy to others.On April 21 from 1:00-2:00 EST, FaithX is hosting a webinar entitled “Mapping Systemic Racism in our Rural Communities.”  Growing up in a rural Appalachian community that was 95% white, I naively didn’t think we had racism in our town.  My perspective on this is being reborn.  I now see that the communities of color in my hometown were/are located on the least desirable land.  I see the lack of representation in leadership.  I hear the language of the dominant culture differently, and since the 1980’s the demographics of this community have changed dramatically with a large influx of people from Mexico and Central America.  We are not who we thought we were, but have our systems and structures been reborn to reflect this change?  How are your rural communities changing?  We at the FaithX Project believe that compelling data combined with communal discernment can enable us to see our small towns and rural communities with new eyes and help us begin to address racism in creative ways that nurture new life, new possibilities. Please join us by registering here!