Lean in to Listen

“Can you give me some advice on what to tell my child?” This was the first of many texts and emails I received in the hours and days following the election. This inquiry came from a broad spectrum of folks. All had expressed concern during the election about the very negative rhetoric that was bombarding us all. Many had hoped that, with the end of the election, this type of damaging language would subside. Yet many feared it would not. I also received news from both Breck and Shattuck-St. Mary’s about the challenges they were experiencing in the week post-election.

Consistently, the encouragement was to stay focused on our core values. In fact, I spent the weekend in meetings with a number of educational leaders and, to a person, their message was two fold: 1) to reinforce our core values and 2) provide space for civil discourse with constructive dialogue.  You can read the statements of each president to their students here for Breck and here for Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

You have heard me say on numerous occasions that as Episcopalians, our core values are found in the Baptismal Covenant. Specifically, “will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?” And, “will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of EVERY human being?”

Loving neighbor as self, striving for justice and peace for all, respecting the divinity of everyone – these are at the heart of who we are and how we will interact with those in the world.

Paramount to living into these core values is the foundational truth that every one deserves to tell their story. In fact, I believe one of the the biggest lessons of the election is how little we know about other people’s stories. Sociologists will tell you that groups of people who only exist in their community become completely unaware of other people’s reality. And in many respects, social media has ushered us once again into silo communities made up of only like-minded folks.

At the ECMN Convention we spent a significant amount of time listening deeply to each others’ stories. The hope was that this would be a tool to assist in the much needed work of racial reconciliation that is our focus in ECMN. The reality is that listening deeply to one another’s story is critical. Until we truly hear another’s experience, we will live in the dangerous land of assumption.

My prayer for this Thanksgiving is that around our tables, in our neighborhoods and far beyond, we will lean into our core values and listen deeply to one another.

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