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🌲 Bending to Survive

C. Wess Daniels
C. Wess Daniels
Dear Friends,
Each week there is more of the two things: love and fear (see the closing quote from Anthony De Mello). I’m hoping that these little dispatches from Greensboro sent out to you are an instance of love. An instance of not shying away from fear but having the courage to press in and offer different ways of imaging our lives together.
Today that love comes in the form of discussing and confronting these ongoing systems of death that plague our society, especially those who are traumatized because of systemic racism and poverty.
I just got off a Zoom gathering with students, staff, and faculty at Guilford where we discussed the Floyd/Chauvin trial and verdict. I’m moved by the vulnerable sharing that took place there as folks wrestled with ways of expressing on the one hand relief for some small measure of accountability and loads of anger and grief at these systems we live under and that leave some far more vulnerable than others. This is not the way that it should be.
And so while we are often surrounded by fear and people acting out of that fear (and surely find that same fear within), let us work, as Quaker minister John Woolman exhorts us to: “turn all the treasures we possess into the channel of universal love.”
As you may notice, I am sharing this issue of the newsletter a little early this week because I am very eager to have you read what my good friend Rev. Dr. Darryl Aaron has to share with all of us today on the subject of Bending to Survive when he challenges us to consider what it means to be “shaped by a world that practices rituals of death rather than observe consecrated acts that give life.” Dr. Aaron serves as the Pastor of the historic Providence Baptist Church here in Greensboro and knows what it means to, as I have heard him say, pastor the multitude. I think you will benefit from what he has to share with us today.
As always, thank you for reading and sharing with others. Be safe and watch out for one another while we continue to organize and mobilize for a more just world for everyone.
- C. Wess Daniels
Greensboro, NC (Haw River Watershed)

Photo from Tomas Sobek on Unsplash
Photo from Tomas Sobek on Unsplash
Bending to Survive
by Rev. Dr. Darryl Aaron
For more than a year we have been hearing it is problematic for teachers to teach and for students to learn virtually during the pandemic. With that said, parents have also voiced their challenges with being educators for this unique time in their children’s lives. And now that school has reopened, one teacher reported she had forty-one pupils in her class. These problems are indeed present; however, the poem written by a young Black boy demonstrates that the difficulty with teaching and learning did not start a few weeks ago or even a year ago. Early on amid the pandemic a deacon of my church was cleaning out his desk and sent me this artistic gift:
“Cause I Aint Got a Pencil” 
I woke myself up
Cause we aint got an alarm clock
 Dug in the dirty clothes basket,       
Cause aint nobody washed my uniform 
Brushed my hair and teeth in the dark,
Cause the lights aint on       
Even got my baby sister ready,
Cause my momma wasn’t home. 
Got us both to school on time,
To eat us a good breakfast.
Then when I got to class the teacher fussed
Cause I aint got a pencil.
According to Joshua Dickerson, the poet, who has many reasons for not having a pencil, reminds us that every day is a mountain climb for many who teach and learn. Please don’t say I am using hyperbole when it comes to brother Dickerson’s daily climb. The subject of the poem is a child being asked to do adult tasks. Adults know that they fail daily with their own duties; therefore, we know that when children must age too quickly, their lives are distorted. Nevertheless, let’s say that Dickerson is living under compromised conditions and he has learned to adjust. Like a tree, Dickerson has learned how to “bend with the wind and keep on living.” 
Without a doubt the pandemic has placed many of us in compromising situations. We have had to make concessions with staying at home, cooking three meals a day and attending church on a computer. You and I cannot dodge the fact that if we are going to survive, we must make some decisions to compromise. I am more than aware that people don’t like the word compromise. But if it is necessary to use a softer word such as adjust, like the tree does with the wind, then we all can do that. The tree cannot change the weather, but it can bend to the climate. Matter of fact, more than likely the tree will have all kinds of grotesque forms because it has been bending and adjusting to survive. That is unimportant. The main business of the tree is to survive.
With that said, it is still immoral that so many children don’t survive because the climate they are forced to endure is simply too harsh for their tender bodies. Recently, Wess spoke about powerful practices that assist with nourishing hope and resisting injustice. I am concerned about Joshua Dickerson the same way I would have been before Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old black male died. Why, because I have a holy hunch Adam was running from a police office with or without a gun because he had not been afforded the opportunity to exercise powerful practices. More than likely he too had been asked why he did not have a pencil because he had been shaped by a world that practices rituals of death rather than observe consecrated acts that give life. Theodore Parker, the Unitarian Universalist asserted he would not pretend to understand the moral universe, he simply trusted that the arc was a long one. A century later Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would claim he knew enough about the arc of the moral universe that he was sure it bended toward justice. My twenty-five years of experience as an educator and pastor gives me authority to name, claim, and proclaim this fact: if our nation had the moral courage to perform powerful practices that provide hope and dismantle racist systems, Dickerson and Toledo would have greater chances at receiving the justice needed to “bend with the wind and keep on living.”
Dr. Darryl W. Aaron, Pastor
Providence Baptist Church
🐦 Retweets
Wess Daniels - seeker of the good ice❄️
🎧 A fantastic new podcast focused on movement-building to end poverty.

The first episode features Rev. Nelson Johnson from Greensboro (!!!), along w the always amazing @MartinSavina & @westmcneill. 💚

You need to check this out & subscribe!

/cc @UniteThePoor @Kairos_Center https://t.co/SYwt5GEgsU
David Dark’s Core Values
The Bible is the composition notebook of a centuries-long caravan of asylum seekers. Critical race theory is serious thinking about constructs that legitimate terror. The Bible is critical race theory. https://t.co/S1ytc7EOdg
Institute for Christian Socialism
This is a very exciting abolitionist initiative from ⁦@MennonitesUSA⁩, a richly resourced guide for Christians/churches “to engage the forces of state, their commitments to non-violence and how to act to end policing and police brutality.” https://t.co/qgZ68zpuer
🎧 Read & Listen
Getting Into Step: A Movement Podcast
Black Like Jazz: Imagining a World Without Police by Josiah Daniels
The Chauvin Verdict Represents an Absolute Minimum of Justice
Radical Happiness: Moments of Collective Joy
Why Democratic Socialism Isn’t Anti-Christian
🗣 One Final Though by Anthony De Mello
Some say that there are only two things in the world: God and fear; love and fear are the only two things. There’s only one evil in the world, fear. There’s only one good in the world, love. It’s sometimes called by other names. It’s sometimes called happiness or freedom or peace or joy or God or whatever. But the label doesn’t really matter. And there’s not a single evil in the world that you cannot trace to fear. Not one. -Anthony De Mello
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Thank you! -Wess 💚
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C. Wess Daniels
C. Wess Daniels @cwdaniels

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Wess (Greensboro, NC)

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