I move around house sitting while I’m here in Seattle. This messes with my routine. When I arrive at a new neighborhood, I need to find out anew where to shop, eat, get gas, use mass transit, and find a new route to work, not to mention finding stuff in the house.
Having a routine is important to me. It is one way I try to make sure I keep consistently doing things that are good for me; eat well, exercise, floss and brush, rest, etc. It was recently during exercise, during a dark morning walk (see Seattle, winter), that I was reminded of other important routines that are good for me like learning about and staying connected with larger realities of community, society, and earth.
My walking exercise became a learning exercise when I put on my headphones and listened to a podcast, The 1619 Project
As we remembered in our worship in late summer, it was 400 years ago that the first African slaves were brought to a British controlled area that became the United States, a place near Jamestown, Virginia. With great skill and art, The 1619 Project connects this history to the life of African Americans now. This is our American history but, for many, especially white people like me, this a hidden history. Like the women we are featuring in worship during this season of Advent and Christmas, many peoples of color and cultures of non-European descent have stories that are not told, not taught.
Having a routine of learning these hidden histories is good for me, even when it’s a walk into the dark side of American history or my own.
As I move around Seattle, I’m learning new things about those areas I move into. Hidden histories are like that: new places that our historical learning routine never went to and that we have to go to in order to learn about. And that learning paves the way for writing a more complete story that can lead us to a more perfect union, a more just world because it’s based on a more complete truth. Jesus said something about the truth setting us free in John’s Gospel. What he was saying in chapter 8 was that living out his teaching, living that truth of life would set people free.
Listening to and living out Jesus’ teaching was the routine that was good for the disciples and for us. The living truth of God in Christ Jesus is Love, a love that leads to healing and justice. The fuller truth, the one that includes hidden histories in our nation, can set us free. For most of us, it will likely take a routine of learning them if we are to know that fuller truth and bring love and justice to its residual realities.
Just like exercise can be an effort and a stretch, but ends up being good for the body and spirit, so it is with learning the hidden histories of those whose stories have been ignored and neglected. Books, movies, podcasts, plays, historic sites, etc. They are all opportunities to encourage and realize a liberating learning.
Even in the Seattle dark, I’m going to keep up a routine for good, one that includes walking into and learning what has been hidden.
What ways of learning hidden histories have you made, or would like to make, a routine in your life?