We are people who work with symbols and metaphors. It is part of our craft. A symbol that means a lot to me is the ouroboros, the snake or dragon devouring its own tail. This image speaks to me of primeval life -death-life cycle in a way that the Cross does not. The Cross is, for me, a statement about God’s action in the world and in history. The ouroboros is the same idea of the life-death-life cycle but out of history.
I have never seen an ouroborus I could wear until a few days ago, whattya know. I was in Salem, MA having coffee and doing some work when I wandered into one of the witchy shops to say hello and browse. Then I found the pendant and I put it on today and it felt helpful to have it on.
I went to bed last night at around 2 AM, woke up at 6 AM, wrote and responded to a lot of messages, then went back to sleep from 11AM to 2PM. It was as though I had been hit by a 2×4. I never managed a shower or make-up today — just washed my face and brushed my teeth. I got to church and kept responding to messages and talking to people, writing pastoral columns and making plans with my folks for the Sunday service and what’s next. I brought the dog with me to church.
Does this feel like 9/11 to you, pastorally? The sense of dread and foreboding is not the same for me but people’s shock and anxiety and grief is very similar. I feel compassion for the many, many people I have been hearing from who say that they’re shocked out of their complacency. Part of our job as social justice activist pastors (if you are one) will be to help our people engage in a way that respects the place and voice of those who have been doing the work for a long time. I know you may have been preaching the principles of anti-racism faithfully and cautioned against centering white voices and white feelings but people will be listening in a new way now.
God grant you strength, patience, compassion, humor and love. What a terrible way to build a movement, but here we are. Let us make something beautiful, strong and inviolable together.
What are you wearing that functions as a talisman to you? Send me photos!