Uncomfortable conversations about racism, discovering Mary Magdalene, and holiday reflections

Uncomfortable conversations with a black man

Continuing my journey from ‘I’m not a racist’ to ‘I’m an anti-racist’, I watched the first two episodes of Oprah’s new show on Apple TV+ called The Oprah Conversation. Her guest on those first two episodes is Emmanuel Acho, host of the YouTube series Uncomfortable conversations with a black man. If you’ve not watched any of those episodes, I highly recommend them. As do I Oprah’s conversation with Emmanuel along with various other guests asking hard questions. It’s thought-provoking, challenging, and yes, it will leave you feeling uncomfortable at times if you are white like me. But I’m determined to keep putting myself into these uncomfortable situations because I know I have so much growth that needs to happen – both personally as an individual but also as a parent raising my two white girls. Watching the two episodes with Oprah generated several lightbulb moments, and called me out on some behaviours I need to change. One thing about me is that by nature I’m conflict averse. Calling people out on anything is not something I find easy, especially if I feel it may trigger some conflict. But this is something I feel particularly challenged about. If I am going to be part of the solution and not just a part of the problem, I have to be prepared to be uncomfortable by speaking up when I see racism. Feeling guilty that I didn’t say something after the moment has passed is not good enough.

Waking up to the significance of Mary Magdalene

Despite having spent my whole life in church, I’ve never spent long in traditional, liturgical churches. So it was only this year that I stumbled into the reality that 22 July is the day Mary Magdalene  is commemorated in the liturgical calendar. I discovered this thanks to Richard Rohr’s daily meditations which spent the whole of that week reflecting on her life. Those meditations nudged me to do some further reading on who she was and her role in the Christian story. So I picked up a couple of books by Cynthia Bourgeout and Meggan Waterson, little knowing how my mind was about to be blown apart. Fifteen years ago if this kind of writing had come my way, I’d have probably burned the books! But with the faith expedition I’ve been on, these books arrived at just the right time. When you spend your whole life in Christian circles (even if right on the edge) it’s easy to think you know all there is to know. These books have opened up my eyes to a whole other side of the Christian story that’s been shut out for much of the last two thousand years. It’s been a revelation. An exciting one.

Buxton is no Switzerland...but a break is a break

As I write this, I’m at the start of my second week of a family summer holiday. We were meant to be going to Switzerland but made the decision a month or so ago to cancel. It just felt like there would be a whole heap of uncertainty and anxiety in the build up that we could do without. So we’ve ended up in Buxton, just fifty minutes from home. Lovely as the town is, it’ll never compete with the stunning mountains and lakes we are surrounded by when we stay at my parents’ place in Switzerland. But it has felt like a genuine break. We’ve had some fun family time together, been on lots of day trips, and remarkably the weather has held up really well. 

Thanks for reading,