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Mysticism and Racism

Dear friends,


As mystics, contemplatives, and peace-makers it is a challenge to be sensitive and profoundly connected to everything.  The great sorrows and soul wounds of the world are in us and we must constantly figure out when to retreat and when to engage the harsh realities that infect us all.

When I was in seminary I could hardly stand to meet the pain of the world. Yet, I also knew it was my path. But how to do so with the grace of God?

My direct connection with the Holy imprinted me with an unconditional neutral regard that I aspire to live. A flood of love was my reaction. I vowed to serve the INSPIRED REALITY.

For me Dignity is a holy hallmark. To commune I seek to Worth-ify, to honor from the depths of Creation. I don’t do it well, but I still aim to.

Dignity is Divine. Racism is the opposite.

As a white person in a white family from a predominantly white religious culture it is easy to live a life where race is not a daily conversation. It is easy to avoid the themes of my own struggle with racism at school, on the street, in my friendships. On the other hand to refuse such conversations is to lose touch with the Field of Dignity. Worse, I add to the soul wound when I do not engage. This pains me more than anything.

My mysticism is horizontal as well as vertical. As I looked through the lens of the divine dance and embodiment and asked what happened, I saw the very structures of liturgy and learning for the way they rank, sort, and degrade many people in the world. Much of what we call tradition actually demonstrates and re-institutes hierarchy. So many familiar forms refuse multiple voices, multiple ways, multiple authorities, and keep people away from the power of non verbal expression. Our “normal” forms attempt to create a MONO world.  Mono=White and this White is an ally to selfish WEALTH.

I knew I needed to differentiate from religious and academic structures that colonize our bodies and thoughts with “human orders.” I opted out.

Our societal forms often maintain the trance of racism. It is hard to see until you see it.  It is like sexism. Once awake you can never go back to sleep. Colonization asks that bodies don’t emote, don’t talk, do stay in rank, do reward commercial success and disregard bodily health if it interrupts productivity.

Thank heaven I see Divine reversals, as well, in the world’s indigenous genius and where the world’s so-called poor have extended to me such rich spiritual wealth.

I ache for joy when my soul connects to the Dignity in another. It is another way of touching God.

When I asked Ruth King, Buddhist teacher and author of Healing Rage, what should I do with my unquenchable rage about the “socialized” white supremacist forms of church and state, She asked, “How Will You Dignify Your Rage.”   That matched my guidance from the Divine.

So activism becomes for me a daily conversation with God.  I am not asked to do more than I can. I am grateful to have a whole soul, maturity, friends and colleagues with whom I journey now.

Some of my basic actions include

Stay awake in my conversations and prayers.
Talk about racism every day.
Align myself as a follower of leaders of color.
Ask questions. Don’t presume.
Change power structures by voting and advocating for more people of color in leadership.
Make Black and Brown Holy Colors in my imagination.
Fill my imagination with Color in Literature, Art, and Film.
Slow down.
Exform and ritualize a better world.
Be a friend and eat with friends of color.
Face racism in community, not alone.
Honor my own color and ancestry.

What about you.  I’d love your thoughts or reactions.


Today I will stand on the corner at Broadway and Grand to celebrate the Warriors Victory with an outstanding mostly black team, AND go to silence in my studio to mourn the violence and evil of hate, I can’t make sense of any of it. Nor can I embody it.  I am so grateful to be in God’s hands with all who know what I mean.





One comment

  1. Dear Cynthia,

    Thank you for sharing your reflections. As an African-American woman I have faced and lived with racism all my life, from a very young age. The ugliness, the vitriolic hatred heaps anxiety and stress causing all kinds of health problems and scars the psyche for many of those who bear the brunt of such hate.

    As a Christian, I believe that every person has a core of divinity that requires that we accept and connect to it. I strive to connect with that divinity daily, to live my life with compassion, love, and respect for others, regardless of religion or ethnicity. I believe every person deserves dignity. Yet the murders in South Carolina cause unspeakable, unbelievable sadness that cocooned my heart. I could only be express as “my heart is crying”. That sadness lingers yet today, but your words somehow allowed that sadness to rise up and flow from my eyes. Tears are still streaming down my face as I write. This unexpected,emotional response to your words surprised me. I thought I had no more tears, my heart has been lamenting racism for so long. Here I sit, crying once more over senseless violence and hate. Crying opening was a release, yet I know my grief, in no way can match that of the families whose lives are changed forever. I want to cry out: How long O Lord!

    I don’t expect racism to end during my lifetime, but I do expect people of faith to begin to educate themselves; to learn about how white privilege is harming all people, not just people of color, and to face the sin of complicity. I pray many will adopt your suggestions and develop their own.

    I pray for God’s mercy. I need God’s love to infuse me with the strength to live each day with integrity, dignity, faith, compassion and hope.

    Lord, in your mercy let us press on together to the upward call of Christ.

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