Sermon Starts goes on camino

June 19, 2023

A friend of mine recently walked the Camino de Santiago. She posted on Facebook about things she was learning about herself, her fellow pilgrims and life. Clearly, the Camino was speaking to her.

I was impressed by how much she experienced in such a simple routine, repeated day after day: rise, walk, find a place to sleep, wash clothes, eat, sleep. I was inspired to start a camino of my own.  My destination is becoming an anti-racist.

My camino may last awhile. I am far from being able call myself anti-racist, let alone an ally, even though through the years I have had good teachers. My father taught me that all persons were equal in dignity before God and should be treated equally by the law and society.

In the 70’s my father, a Dutch Reformed Church minister, filed this certificate with the N.J. State Department of Health following a marriage he had performed. For “Race” he indicated “Human.”

Visions, Inc. and the faculty of Episcopal Divinity School taught me much about where racism operates. Living in a very white corner of New Hampshire I read the 1619 Project, co-led three “Me and White Supremacy” groups and participated in one round of the Episcopal Church’s study program “On Sacred Ground.” What all of that helped me see (especially “Me and White Supremacy”) was the many times I have ignorantly spoken or acted as a racist because of my unwanted but very real internalized racism. I have a lot more work to do to deal with that and the ways white culture reinforces and rewards it.

For my camino I do not have a map, only a plan: to read books written by African-American authors and their allies. I trust that part of their purpose in writing was to teach white people like me something that I do not know but should.

This camino is a simple discipline. Like walking, one foot in front of the other. One book, one chapter, one article after another.  I know that white people and book groups is a thing. But this feels different. More personal. More active. Every day I will read, listen and learn something.

The blog is an important part of the camino. In it, I will practice saying what I am learning. I want to hold black American history, critical race theory, systemic racism, white racism and white supremacy alongside the news of the day and (in 500 words or less) try to understand what it means and most importantly, how I or we might be called to respond.

The purpose of this blog has changed from the one you may have subscribed to. Feel free to un-subscribe. No worries.

On the other hand, if this camino is of interest to you or similar to one you are on yourself, welcome! Buen camino, and feel free to comment whenever the spirit moves you!