I was recently at a training hosted by Prophetic Resistance Boston (Mass. Community Action Network). During this training, we did an exercise in which we were to listen to someone’s story and ask them: “Why are you here?” Once the person responded, we were to ask again, “Why are you here?” And after their response, ask a third time, “Why are you here?” The threefold questioning pushed me to dig deeply into my initial responses about the importance of people of faith being involved in the work of justice and my desire to be a part of that work. Yes, you believe that to be a faithful Christian means being active in working for justice, but “Why are you here?”
Since that training, I’ve been paying more attention to why I engage in acts of justice making. With so many organizations and communities doing good, hard work of trying to make God’s love manifest in the world around us, how do I choose? On what criteria do I base my decisions on how to best use my time? Why participate in this event rather than another one? When I show up to a space, am I clear about why I have decided to show up?
It is important for we who engage in justice work to be in touch with the deep reasons why we do it, not just as a way to prioritize our efforts, but also as a way to make sure that we are engaging justice work in a just way. If I’m just showing up without a connection to my why, I am at a greater risk of engaging the work in a way that perpetuates unjust systems of oppression. Being connected to why I show up grounds me and allows me to engage in justice work with humility, perseverance, and hope.
During this Lenten season, I invite you to join me in connecting or re-connecting to the most core reasons why you engage in justice work. Why are you here?
Reverend D. Littlepage is a priest and the Executive Director of the Roxbury-Dorchester Mission Hub.