Throughout this Lent, St. Andrew's has two beautiful opportunities to get closer to our true selves, closer to God, and closer to each other. See just below for more information on our explorations of Creation, and of the Gospel of John.
I've also been enjoying a third Lenten practice created collaboratively by the Episcopal Church of NH and the NH Black Heritage Trail. It is eminently approachable.
Each day in Lent they offer a provocative prayer and a brief biography of a little known Black New Hampshirite of long ago. Some of these people, like Amos Fortune, are better known, but many of the biographies are necessarily brief, as the historical record contains only footnotes on a marriage here, and a burial there. The footnotes simultaneously obscure and reveal these founders of our state; laborers, political movers, artists, shepherds, caretakers, soldiers, free and enslaved.
As I've read them, the stories have quickly born their hoped-for fruit in me; I see these individuals coming alive as co-builders of New Hampshire, alongside the White figures that I read in most books, and see quoted on trendy plaques in gift shops, and whose poetry is dear to me.
When I learned of Boad's annual summers in what is now Mason, NH, tending many cattle alone and faithfully for months, I immediately knew that he and I shared a care for the woods and rocks and rhythms of this place, and that his care had prepared the way for my own. And in Prince Whipple's abolition petition to the state legislature I recognized the best of community organizing and the people's voice. And how much more galvanizing to envision this courage from one who was yet owned by another under law.
During the last month and a half I've been delving into my ancestry. This has been both beautiful and grief-worn. In my relation to slavery it has placed particulars onto the general knowledge I have of benefiting from historic and continuing racial inequity. I learned that the first Loy of my line in America, John George Loy, arrived 1733, passed on in his will a human being; "John _____. Negro."
Only a half-name listed for this man who co-founded both our nation and my own family. But still, a name. And the door cracked open into imagination, sorrow, repentance, appreciation, and the humility of unknowing.
Amid the beloved gentle Dust-iness of Lent, we have been invited by our Presiding Bishop, General Convention, Diocesan Convention, and certainly and most wondrously by God-self to reflect and repent especially this year of the brokenness enacted in slavery and racism. In these biographical and prayerful Lenten reflections I'm reminded that we (surely without equal choice in the matter) have been broken together. And we are still together. Like the course edges of a cracked mug, the broken edges are also the best place for re-connected, mending, reconciliation.
Lent lets us re-member in this strange Christly wisdom way. Thanks to God. My thanks to the leaders of DioNH and the NH Black Heritage Trail who have offered up this timely window to new life. And a belated and broken/healing thank you to John _____, negro, fellow founder of my family.
In Awe at the Work of Lent,