Fia Cronin • December 23 2023
It’s that time of year, ‘tis the season…whether you celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, or maybe you celebrate Pumpkin Spice Lattes…the season also comes with a wide array of emotions that each of us bring to the table. We might have experienced loss and are left with endless grieving, anger lingering from relationships fractured, disappointment from dreams left unfulfilled; or maybe you are in a season of joy following a year of amazing memories to celebrate. Wherever you place yourself on this wheel of emotions right now, these emotions and past experiences are a part of how you view the world around you. They are a part of how you experience this season of Justice work.
Seeing Justice Work through a New Lens
I think sometimes we hear Justice work, and our brains immediately think of actions or activities for us to do, and sometimes that is what it is. But I have also experienced a shift in mindset, a lifelong learning mindset, that sees every relationship, every job, every outing, every class, every world event, every conversation as an opportunity to view the whole person in front of me, or the situation through a new lens, or an opportunity to develop my justice muscles and listen to people I don’t agree with…in hopes of an opportunity to share my thoughts and plant seeds along the way.
I was shopping in this little boutique shop recently and saw a canvas that read, “Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds, you can grow flowers or weeds.” As soon as I read it, I couldn’t help but think about Dr. Lucretia Berry’s book Teaching for Justice and Belonging, going back to the foundation of growth, the soil, the seed, the root, the sprout, the bud, the weeds, the bloom—maturing into a new normal.
A New Normal
I keep saying we have a new normal after 2020 and I am not sure if I like any of it! But when I go back to this foundation of growth and remember the process and reflect on the pain points, that’s when my new normal brings me Hope. I am starting to say this is my new normal and feel a smile come to my face. I can replace the old way I would handle a stressful situation or difficult person or even how I view a situation and embrace my new normal. I have cultivated good rich soil; I have been planting seeds and I have a few blooms out there to celebrate and then start again and again. It’s been a great reminder for me this year.
This year has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions for me…a year ago I was zooming from an apartment we had just moved into after my husband took a job that moved us to a new city, selling our home, buying a new home, then job loss for my husband, him starting a new company that is slow to get started, now back to selling a house and tonight after moving a week ago, I am zooming from an apartment again…that’s my season right now…and all the emotions that come with it…another new normal…and I have to ask myself how am I REALLY doing?
Can I be honest…not exactly the dream…the recovering perfectionist in me would much rather jump back into that season of stability, financial security, that season where everything seemed to be in place so I could focus on being a person of peace, with a voice of hope, doing the hard work of love. But life isn’t like that, is it? Nothing remains stagnant, things are always changing, and everyday life challenges don’t stop so we can do the hard work…they are a part of the work in the first place. I think it’s why we equate life to seasons – seasons that change sometimes abruptly, sometimes slowly – but every time, change nonetheless.
DREAMING WITH HOPE
When I can recognize this change as an opportunity for personal growth, it’s a chance to reflect and embrace the emotions that go with it. Recently I started taking the new Brownicity course: The Mindful Antiracist. The class is teaching how to navigate tough emotional terrain and cultivate self-compassion…I am doing the hard work and extending love to myself, prioritizing this time to build a foundation of peace in my heart so I can love myself and others well. It’s part of the process of cultivating the soil in my own heart, allowing me to give myself the grace to struggle, the time to rest, the chance to see the internal work as just as important or even more important than the outward work…this is my springboard to dreaming with Hope.
I am willing to bet that many of us dream of a future in color – a color-brave culture, a beloved community of all shades of brown, where diverse personalities spearhead companies, where the news outlets are not our source education, or a playground where children are playing hide and seek and they see those around them as caramel, cinnamon spice, vanilla latte, or dark chocolate cream…take your pick.
Each season we are in allows us the opportunity to dream with Hope. I will be honest, it’s been a year since I taught a What Lies Between Us class. Maybe it’s been a while now since you’ve taken or taught your first class, and that’s ok. Every aspect of that course still fuels your everyday interactions. It’s in those everyday interactions where I believe God is working to lead us into this beautiful community He has always envisioned, the community He created in His own image. He is my source of Hope.
CHANGE THAT BRINGS HOPE
During the past couple of months, I have seen God give me glimpses of change that have brought me Hope. A couple of years ago I used the What Lies Between Us curriculum and we as a family watched Race: The Power of an Illusion and worked through the journaling together. And it sparked some amazing conversations at home.
Fast forward three years later and my 16-year-old daughter is enrolled in a virtual school for US History and happens to be taking the same history class but in an online dual enrollment college level class. WOW have we had some great conversations with her about the differences she sees in the two curriculums. She is doing power analyses every time she has to complete an assignment. She is noticing what history is being taught and what is being omitted, what facts and narratives are being told in one class and what voices are left out of the conversation. Hearing her process out loud what she is experiencing, and articulating what her observations might mean, has been a source of Hope.
CONFRONTING MY WHITENESS
Hope has also come from participating in the Confronting Whiteness Class with Dan Berry leading the group. I invited a close family member who had taken the What Lies Between Us class over a year ago and was starting to question everything she was seeing around her and filtering information through a new lens, which was great. Every week light bulbs would go off as she did the hard work of reading and watching material she had never experienced before. Week after week we wrestled with white supremacy and how it had racialized every step of our lives. But let me get real with you all for a moment. I knew this class would stretch me to also wrestle with topics or ideas I had yet to unpack of my own white supremacy and racialized upbringing…and I was looking forward to the challenge for me personally, but I was not looking forward to processing all of this with my family in the group.
But I was reminded that this wasn’t about my comfort. I kept coming back to the fact that we are all on the journey, and the saying: “we don’t know, what we don’t know…how else will either of us come into the ‘know’ unless we dive into the uncomfortable together.” What better place to process and grow, than in a class called Confronting Whiteness. I had to confront my own gunk, my own emotions and embarrassment, my own judgmental tendencies and realize this was another place to find Hope.
WHAT BRINGS YOU HOPE?
I am curious, what brings you Hope as you are doing the hard work of Love? What keeps you from extending yourself or others the grace and time needed throughout this season of life?
‘Tis the Season for Hope…it’s all around you just waiting to be celebrated!