By Lauryl Hebenstreit
Movement and its subsequent verb “move” can be defined as “an act of changing physical location or position.”
The Lutheran Center took a faithful move toward equity in its decision to host anti-racism training for three Sundays this October with the help of Next Faithful Move—a program hosted by David Sherer and Joe Davis.
Lutheran Center students joined a two hour zoom calling knowing very little of this anti-racism work they would be doing. They knew only of the book, podcast, television, and movie recommendations given to them a few weeks before the meeting on October 11th.
I was fascinated when Joe and David took an approach I had never experienced. Their training did not dive into systemic racism or talks of who has privilege and who does not; rather, their three-week training model asks for us to feel in our body where the tension of race relations lie.
Going forward with Next Faithful Move also meant homework. When this was first mentioned by Joe and David I rolled my eyes, truly thinking about when I would have time for more work in a semester and world that drains me of all energy. I figured it would be like my other classes, assigning another book or a journal prompt.
But instead, we were merely asked to look for and remember instances of power in our daily lives. We were all asked to take inventory of the times we held power over someone else, the times we had power taken from us, and the times we felt empowered.
Going about my week, I nearly forgot all about the assignment until one specific instance where I felt weak and powerless.
That, for me, perfectly accounts for how power plays out in our lives. Too often, when we hold the power, we do not even think twice about our words or actions. But when power is stripped from us, we are very aware of our feelings. We become unable to move, frozen in the weakness. With this, I reflected further.
I thought of the very moments I felt power at play during the training. In one particular case, David asked us to sit in our chairs and take inventory of what our bodies felt like. He asked where we felt heavy: in our shoulders or jaws? He then announced two statements with the intent of us noting how our bodies felt as he said them.
The first was about how we were incapable of doing anti-racist work.
At that very moment, looking back, I felt powerless. It wasn’t until he said that we were more than capable of the work that I felt the power come back to me, like a breaker that had just been switched.
It is now clear to me that power lies within this work we did at The Lutheran Center. And it wasn’t power that someone held over me or I over them. It was that we are now working toward having the tools to help the powerless find their voices. It is the power of movement.
Power in this context means walking alongside the marginalized. It means using my power to empower others. Until we all have the collective force of all our power, disenfranchised people, God’s people, will remain powerless.
Power is taking the next faithful move to a position, a place, better for all of us.