The Power of Presence

By: Harleigh Boldridge (Decorah, IA)

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In his book A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough*, Wayne Muller explores what we, as social beings, can do to support  one another in the event of extreme trauma. To the reader he says, “Perhaps the greatest wealth you possess, the most precious, valuable gift you can ever hope to offer any human being, is this one, simple, true thing: You. Your presence.” After reading this in one of my social work classes, I thought I understood Muller’s philosophy of how we can support others through intense sorrow, sudden trauma, or simply overwhelming life events, but recent experiences have renewed my understanding and given it a new light. Continue reading

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Dulled Magic: Embodied Resistance

By: Antoine R. Cummins (Forest City, IA)

My recent trip to the Holy land left a distinctively tasteless flavor within my spirit. The sharp and steady sun overhead mirrored, if not amplified, the tense realities on the ground that so many call home; white hot.

This was not my first time to Palestine, but it was the first time that I was able to be fully present and alert; heart properly prepared for the experience. On this recent trip, I traveled with a group consisting of young adults of color from across the ELCA. As I reflect now, I realized that to have been in community with the individuals who made up the group alone was enough to prime my perspective to cope with the all too personal images and stories of injustice and discrimination.

Not only that, but the fact that we were led by two of the most powerful women that I have encountered within our Church provided me with ample space to explore how our communities would begin to heal themselves if only inherited beliefs and limitations made way for reimagining and courage: Rozella White and Karin Brown, no truer embodiment of divine feminine, but that is an entirely different reflection in and of itself.

Starting out as a group of acquaintances we traveled. We listened. We loved. We prayed. We communed. And despite all the stimuli and complexity, we were encouraged to be present with each other and with God. In the profane, we found sacredness and I will be ever thankful for the opportunity.

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