My son, Dave, and my wife, Betsy, were house hunting in late February. We were looking for a small house that Dave could make an offer on in the Minneapolis area. As we drove to our first showing Dave asked me what kind of flag was flying in the square, near the Cup Foods store. I told him I thought it was a “Black Power” flag.
The house was lovely. It had wonderful built ins and a bit of original stained glass in the windows. There was a warmth to the home in its style and architecture, its expert craftsmanship, its elegance. And there were, of course, touches of home in the decorations and the small artifacts in the bathroom and bedrooms. The family was selling after living in the neighborhood for about four years.
We finished the showing and then drove back into the square near the Cup Foods store. The square had memorial flowers placed to one side. A couple of businesses were boarded up, others were open. And then we noticed an informal sign naming the square after George Floyd. You could say we replaced a close up lens on our camera for a wide angle. What a different way to search for a home!
Dave, Betsy and I felt a bit in awe of where we were. We read more about the incident and discovered that George Floyd had been living in my son’s neighborhood but preferred hanging out in the Powerderhorn neighborhood.
The Powderhorn neighborhood of Minneapolis is still reshaping its future. But there is a sacred ground somewhere between the cozy home on Elliot Street and the Cup Food store with its flags and flowers. It is a ground sacred to the ones who have loved that area … who have invested time and attention, love and anger, grace and hope in this neighborhood.
When Moses approached a burning bush in Exodus, God said “take off your shoes”! I think God was communicating to Moses that he was not to make assumptions about what God was up to. He was to become vulnerable to that space and time. God was doing something new.
Sacred ground is ground with boundaries … a way of defining what is sacred and what is not. It is a place that you enter with permission, and where you ask questions, moving in as invited. A boundary is not a wall. Walls may not have a door. A boundary tends to have ways of entering and ways of leaving. A wall separates us from others, often through fear. A boundary lets the owner create opportunities on their terms for relationship.
I came home aware that our white privilege curriculum is all about walls of privilege, influence and fear. But with that we are also opening a conversation about the boundaries that create relationship and hope. Can we listen for the invitation to relationship, even while we dismantle those unholy walls? I believe so.
Rev. Jonathan Goodell
P.s White Privilege series is coming in May