Let us work for real wellness in our communities
Wellness in our communities
The phrase “wellness check” rang out to me this past weekend.
Wellness is a noun that the Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science and Medicine defines as, “a condition obtained when a person achieves a level of health that minimizes the chances of becoming ill. Wellness is achieved by a combination of emotional, environmental, mental, physical, social, and spiritual health.“
Companies, communities, college campuses, and even apps talk about having programs that will help people achieve a state of wellness. Valpo’s own Health Center has a program:
“The mission of the Health Center’s Wellness Program is to enhance organizational health by fostering interest and encouraging students to initiate or expand healthier lifestyles, provide diverse wellness programs to meet a wide range of personal health needs, and develop a positive school culture that is focused on celebrating and improving the quality of life for all students.”
Wellness is supposed to be about a holistic approach to people having a stronger quality of life. However, this past weekend in Fort Worth, Texas, a neighbor called the police to do a wellness check at a house that had the front door open for hours. When the police arrived and began to search the perimeter, they eventually saw a black woman through a window and within four seconds, shot Atatiana Jefferson in her own home. She was the “cool aunt” who was up late with her nephew playing Xbox. Our wellness in our communities is broken. As a white person I have no fear of a wellness check, yet this is not the case for many people of color.
If wellness means the emotional, environmental, mental, physical, social, and spiritual health of all people are valued, we have work to do. This means needing to be honest about the illness of racism that infects our systems. We need to be honest that access to true wellness is currently limited for people of color due to the systems that are at work. We are called to work for a new wellness program in our country and in our communities, a wellness program that truly strives to improve the quality of life for all people.
As a white person I grew up hearing about the importance of being color-blind. It has only been due to some uncomfortable and faithful conversations, deep listening, and deep reading that have helped me to see that being color-blind is to ignore the realities that my black and brown neighbors live. To be color-blind is to be blind to the virus of racism that has infected our systems in such a way that we don’t even realize, causing a deep sense of our society being unwell. God calls us to do the work of striving for justice in our world and for our neighbor. When we fail to answer this call, lives are at risk.
In Letter from a Birmingham Jail, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice…”
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he was a boundary crosser. Over and over Jesus went into the communities, houses, and places that were unclean, unsafe, unworthy. Over and over he challenged his followers to interact with that and those who were different. Over and over he challenged the systems that were oppressive, that excluded, that denied the full humanity of all people. Being a follower of Jesus is a call to strive for everyone to experience the abundance, the wellness of life that God desires for ALL people. However, this requires getting in a boat with Jesus to go to the other side for a journey that will most certainly include storms and other risks. Trusting that Jesus is with you in the boat, moving toward a different kind of peace in the midst of the storm—a peace that, in our current context, comes when we are willing to listen deeply to the story of this land…
This land and the stories of those whose ancestors had lived here long before White Europeans arrived and were killed by violence and disease.
This land and the systems that are in our very soil from years of free labor extracted from black bodies, brutally beaten and oppressed to create wealth for the white plantation owners and white communities in the south and the north.
This land and the policies that created access to quality housing and education, but only for white residents.
This land and the structures that have embedded implicit bias inside of all of us. Are we willing to be honest about the stereotypes and bias we hold in ourselves? What is it that allows trained officers over and over to say that the presence of a black body made them feel threatened? What is it in myself that makes me scared to ask these questions?
How is our faith calling us to listen, to get in the boat, to examine ourselves and our systems? How can we trust that though the storms and discomfort may come, that Jesus will be present with us in the important work of truly caring for our neighbor? How can we strive for wellness for ALL of God’s children?
Oct. 16, 2019
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Better Together
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- We had hoped
- What do you do with your anger?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future