Dulce Weigel on Sacred Ground
The reasons that people give for participating in Sacred Ground probably equals the number of people in the circles. I think my own seed was planted when my daughter was in Honors US history in high school. She was studying for a test and was getting frustrated by the amount of material she had to learn. I offered to quiz her on it and realized that I had never even heard of a lot of what she was studying and not just because I had studied history in the previous century. Fast forward to college level Western civilization and again there was frustration, but this time it was different. “This is not my history” (my daughter is Chinese and I am Caucasian), “Europeans sure fight a lot,” and finally, “Why do I even need to know this?” Of course I replied with a paraphrase of this well-worn quote, “(Sigh) Just learn it. Because you know, those who do not learn history are destined to repeat it.”
Really, learning from history should help prepare us for what might lie in the future. Learning from our past mistakes should make us better people. But what if the history you have been taught is biased and full of convenient omissions? And even worse, what if it is not your history? I realized that no matter how much history I thought I had learned that not only did I not get the whole story, I didn’t get the right one. I decided that I would dig in and learn “real history.” But after some time, I too got frustrated. The Europeans were still fighting, and so were the Americans, and frankly I didn’t know whose history this was because everything I read really “leaned to the white.” Add to that our country’s current divisiveness, the dramatic rise in racism, gun worship, police brutality, oppression of the marginalized, denigration of immigrants, etc., etc. I just closed my books. I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t do this — or so I thought.
Sacred Ground couldn’t have started at a better time. The program materials and the discussions that follow go into enough depth that not only do you learn, you also understand. There is a lot to learn, but I no longer feel overwhelmed. Sacred Ground encourages us to follow our baptismal covenant of respecting the dignity of every human being. To bring racial justice and healing to the world, we must first take an in-depth look at the real history of our nation, and all the wrongs that minorities have had to endure. To understand how we as a nation got where we are and to create a peaceful future, we must learn the real history, “everyone’s history,” of how our country came to be. Embracing diversity should provoke intense discussion and force us to question what we have believed all along, and experiencing this as a group enables us to listen to others whose life experiences are far different than our own. Discussing in a group affords us the opportunity to freely express frustration when history starts repeating itself because in turn there is always someone else who can help us find the hope that is ever present but often hidden. This spiritual journey is not easy and it is often uncomfortable. It is not a journey that seeks to impose guilt, but instead implores us to love and respect all our neighbors. In doing this as a community, we allow our shared experiences in this sacred space to transform our own lives and in turn help others transform theirs. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I started Sacred Ground, but I can say with utmost certainty that I have been profoundly changed. It is a worthwhile experience and I highly recommend this journey.
Dulce Weigel, St. Paul’s Parishioner