Cara Meredith and I met over a pizza, a connection set up by a mutual friend. “I think you’ll like each other,” said the friend. Only a few bites in, I knew she was right.
When Cara spoke at my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group the next day and I couldn’t stop laughing (if you ever meet her, ask her about getting stuck atop a chain-link fence), I knew I wanted to be her friend for a long time to come.
Cara’s generosity knows no bounds. I know you’ll enjoy her words as much as I do. Welcome, Cara!
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The Cat’s Out of the Bag
by Cara Meredith
A couple of weeks ago, I sat at the feet of Rev. Dr. Ruby Sales, or “Mama Ruby,” as we called her by the end of the night. A legend in her own right, her insights were nothing short of legendary to me, filling nearly eight pages in my journal within an hour’s time. Of course, American historians (including the Smithsonian Institution, who honored her as one of fifty African Americans spotlighted in the National Museum of African American History and Culture) regard her as legendary as well.
As you might imagine, the night was nothing short of unforgettable.
“Movements,” Mama Ruby said, “always lead the way for other movements.” Together the women I pilgrimaged with that week and I began connecting the dots: the early suffragette movement in the mid-nineteenth century made room for the abolitionist movement. Likewise, nearly a hundred years later, the Civil Rights Movement opened the door not only for the Black Power Movement, but also for the modern-day feminism movement.
I may not be a historian, but I can’t help but wonder what that means for us today – and for those of us in a Christian context, what this means for the Church today.
Your head has to be buried ten feet underground, covered by rocks and dirt and grime, to not feel the current of change permeating the air. The change – or movement – that has taken place in our country over the last year cannot be missed, for it has penetrated every facet of society. From the government to our places of worship, there’s not an American citizen who hasn’t felt or seen the effects of hate and injustice.
Perhaps now more than ever, division, discord and hatred mark our country. But I am not without hope.
Shortly after flying into Seattle from that same trip, hope was found in a Honda Civic.
As luck – or as divine appointment – would have it, a man named Surinder drove said Honda Civic that afternoon. It’s just another Uber ride, I thought to myself as I pulled out my cell phone and began scrolling through social media for the better part of twenty minutes.
I reasoned that my exhaustion rendered me the right not to engage with the man sitting two feet in front of me, but Surinder wasn’t going to put up with that. He was relentless in his pursuit of small talk, and I finally acquiesced.
That’s when hope burst in.
We talked about my trip to the Eastern Seaboard, about how it wasn’t merely a trip, but a complete and total game-changer when it came to the way I think about and engage in issues of justice. An immigrant himself, he offered a viewpoint of the division present in our country I hadn’t yet heard:
Sometimes you have to let the cat out of the bag. Sometimes you have to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Sometimes things have to get messy, and the reality of what people actually believe has to come out in order for real peace and unity to happen.
Is it not any different for the rest of us? To me, Surinder’s words echoed that of the prophet Isaiah:
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. –Isaiah 9:4-5
You and me, we’re in the middle of a battle now. Movement is coming, but it’s not here yet. Change will arrive, but we’re still sifting our way through questions to find our answer. Meanwhile, we feel the birthing pains of pain and division, the yokes and bars and rods of our oppressor, “all their whips and cudgels and curses,” as Eugene Petersen puts it in his translation of Isaiah 9.
But deliverance and peace is on the way. Victory and hope will soon be ours. Justice and mercy come in the form of a small baby boy, and as we wait in holy anticipation this Advent season, we do not wait in vain.
Although the cat’s been let out of the bag, we are on the cusp of a movement – and surely, surely, this movement is one that will usher in dignity and grace.
So we plead, so we wait, in holy anticipation all the same.
How are you waiting?
Cara Meredith is a speaker and writer from Seattle, Washington. Her first book, a memoir about her journey into issues of race, releases in January 2019 (Zondervan). She is passionate about issues of racial and social justice, and can’t get enough of conversations around the table with those she loves. You can connect with her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.