***Alternate***First Reading: Valerie Kaur – from See No Stranger

A reading from See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur.

If we take a linear view of history, then we are sliding backward. But if we see the story of America as one long labor, then we have a different view. Progress during birthing labor is cyclical, not linear. It is a series of expansions and contractions, and each turn through the cycle brings us closer to what is being born. I see this pattern through U.S. history: A generation fought to abolish slavery and free people from bondage, but it was followed by a Jim Crow system.

Another generation built a civil rights movement to end segregation and win equal rights, but it was followed by criminal justice, immigration, and national security systems that continue to punish black and brown people. The labor is ongoing, the injustice relentless. But each time people organized, each turn through the cycle opened a little more space for equality and justice.

It also created ancestral memory: We carry the memory of movements that came before us. Like the body in labor, we have gained more embodied knowledge about what to do when the crises come. We can turn to the wisdom of our ancestors for how to labor—to wonder, to grieve, to fight, to rage, to listen, to reimagine, to breath and to push, and to find the bravery we need for transition.

The words of Valarie Kaur.