Sidewalk Pilgrimage

“Today the Church of the Heavenly Rest on East 90th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is launching their Sidewalk Journey for Justice.
It includes 6 icons on 90th Street with QR codes that link back to resources to learn, pray, and act against racism. This sidewalk pilgrimage offers visible witness for our neighbors with the values of human dignity & equal justice that are foundations for our faith. The project builds on the energy of the Virtual Pilgrimage for Racial Justice that the church hosted in June.

The church is launching the pilgrimage today because August 28 is the anniversary of both the “I have a Dream Speech” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 and the lynching of Emmett Till in 1955.
— Rev. Matt Heyd

As a minister’s daughter, I am cut from similar cloth as my dad, but maybe in ways that you might not expect. My father has sometimes practiced his faith and calling outside of mainstream religion. He said to me recently, “I’ve never been an Orthodox Christian”. For him, nature breathes Spirit into him more than dogma ever could.

I have always felt God’s presence in my life, and I feel that relationship most acutely when I am in nature, and also through connections with all the people who enrich my life. This includes loved ones, but also those who teach me through contrast, keeping my paradigm ever shifting and growing. Every exchange can be an adventure and opportunity for my soul to find its true north.

But my connection to a religious community has been more elusive. I’ve spent much of my adult life experimenting with various communities. I attended a Unitarian church for a number of years, where I taught Sunday School to 8/9 year-olds, and met one of my dearest friends. My life partner and I followed a New Thought church as it grew over a decade and then folded. During the past few years, I have been actively searching for a spiritual community that I could make my own. It took a pandemic for me to find that community in my own backyard, two blocks away from my home. It had been there all along.

And the other weird thing is that my involvement with the Church of the Heavenly Rest has been largely online.

Who knew?!

There are many reasons why this place feels like home. It is after all the denomination that I grew up in. The warmth and inclusiveness of the clergy, and the kindness of the parishioners is part of it. But the values that I see enacted are also a huge variable. The clergy and members constantly call upon us all to expand our perceptions, to make room at the table for everyone, to shoulder collective suffering and to celebrate our joys together. We are invited to be accountable for the injustice so present in our world. And most importantly, to act.

In the padlet connected to the pilgrimage website, I made this commitment today: “I commit to engaging in conversations about inequity with marginalized people so that I can stand in witness and listen to learn more  about what I need to do to bring about change. 
I will continue to look for opportunities to facilitate conversations about undoing White Supremacy at home.” 

I had a wonderful conversation today with a child life student of color who taught me a lot in one hour. It was immediate proof that listening and witnessing changes the witness and the narrator.

What is your commitment today to bend the arc towards justice? I invite you to add your commitment to the padlet link to turn your thought into action.