There’s a book title, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, that has come to mind as I consider the multiple strands of changes and challenges happening in America right now. The book, by Eugene Peterson (who also created The Message paraphrase of the Bible), contradicts America’s addiction to immediacy and quick fixes. He talks about how discipleship, or deepening our faith through conscious study and faithful living, is about walking “a long obedience in the same direction.”
At St. Philip’s, our antiracism discussion group has finished one book and moved on to another. Some folks have left, others have joined. We are taking a deeper look now at the multiple strands of racism that are woven into the history of this country and considering what is ours to do today in response to continued eruptions of racism, including active efforts to suppress the vote in this country.
When I step back and take a broader view, I certainly never thought that so much could change in less than four years. Power does indeed corrupt; our president is openly saying that his actions against the postal service are being taken in order to suppress the vote. I could not have imagined such a possibility four years ago, though I did have fears.
So, what can I do? I can embrace a long obedience in one direction. Christ calls me to love and care for all my fellow human beings. That’s my direction. That involves learning, praying, acting, changing, and recognizing that, as a middle-class white woman, I live in a bubble of prosperity not enjoyed by the vast majority of God’s people, in America and around the world. It means continuing to walk the road of waking and working for change, even when it’s hard. Even when I want to be “done” with it. So many of my fellow human beings don’t have the chance to be “done” with it. So, I will embrace obedience and keep showing up. I will keep walking in one direction alongside my fellow pilgrims on this journey called Christian life.
What long obedience are you called to undertake?