“Don’t just doing something, stand there.”—Daniel Berrigan

When I was young, I learned the liturgical seasons by where we put our bodies. On the first Monday during Advent, my parents would pick my sister and me up from school. We would drive an hour to Williams International where they were building engines for cruise missiles. On the way, we would pull on snow pants and boots, mittens and hats. Then our family would stand outside the plant lighting a single purple candle in a glass lantern. My parents would stand by the road while my sister and I played among the cat tails along a stream that ran beside the gate—a small patch of beautiful earth beside a death-dealing plant working to wipe out humans and earth together. We would crack the ice on the stream and dance in the snow. The sun would set. And then we would hear my parents whistle for us, and we would join them in time to sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” in the dark beside the single flame. Then, we would climb back into the car only to return a week later with two purple candles. 

It was in those early days that I learned that scripture and faith were inextricably bound to the work of justice. It was in those days that I learned that faith had to do with bodies and showing up. It was in those days that I learned to love the darkness of night and the beauty of light. It was in those days that I learned the power of a mass protest, but also the strength of one small family standing in one small place. 

And now I enter another season of Advent feeling the weight of the trauma of this year held in my body. There is fear, and grief, and rage, and a sense that I can’t seem to find my footing. I find myself crying out, “Where must I put my body?”

As night draws in, there is a cop pointing a gun at a neighbor who happened to be walking down the street in his Black skin.

Oh God, where do I put my body?

As hospitals overflow, folks are gasping for air and nurses are bone weary.

Oh God, where do I put my body?

As Trump and his supporters continue attempting to throw out the votes in majority Black cities with their legal games and narrative spins.

Oh God, where do I put my body?

As white supremacists show up armed again and again at Black Lives Matter protests.

Oh God, where do I put my body?

As the earth cries out in pain while the smoke still settles in the West, hurricanes continue to cycle in the south, and warmth in the north holds back the snow.

Oh God, where do I put my body?

As I hold my beautiful boys in my arms and hunger for a world of justice.

Oh God, where do I put my body?

And so dear friends, let the darkness cradle your weary body close. Then gather your candles, and find a place stand.

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