If you want a taste of freedom...

I recently spent a week teaching and leading retreats in Madison, Wisconsin where I have been fortunate to travel twice each year for nearly 15 years. This recent trip happened to be the week following the death of Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old young man shot by a Madison police officer. The city was in shock. As my good friend Suzanne drove me from the airport into town we were diverted by police barricades cordoning off the block where people held vigil at the site of the shooting. It was painful to witness the peaceful crowd, mostly silent, as we drove around the protected blocks and continued on our way. In the retreats that followed I heard people speaking of their anger and sadness, the disbelief that such an event could have occurred, and a mixture of outrage and grief. People reached out to the family of the boy who was shot, sensitive to their unthinkable loss. People reached out to the officer and his family, also caught in the cycle of terrible suffering.

I am no expert on these complex matters. I mostly feel impotent and humbled in the face of such tragedy. I happened to have a small book of quotes with me on my trip, given to the participants at a 50th birthday party right before I left for Madison. As we began the retreat I opened this treasure and found the two quotes I've included below, each from someone who has lived more intimately with these matters than I. I hope their words will resonate somewhere in your heart and mind. I brought them to Inquiry as our prompts for practice. You may hear the recording of this session on the blog post itself.

From Harriet Tubman, a brave woman who helped free slaves by establishing the Underground Railroad:
If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If they're shouting after you, keep going. Don't even stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.
From the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality...I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Inquiry recording: