Reflection by Pastor Erin Swenson-Reinhold

Over three months, the synod staff committed with one another to wrestle through and with the book, My Grandmother’s Hands. As a white woman, I was challenged to face my own white privilege and the times I have chosen my own comfort over the discomfort of others. As I listened to my colleagues’ stories, my heart ached yet I was encouraged and hope-filled that our small group could be honest and vulnerable, challenging each other to be honest and true. 

As we continue to navigate this uncertain and uncomfortable territory, I found the grounding techniques that Resmaa Menakem presented a gift in he offered us an opportunity to remain in the discomfort without running or hiding. The Five Anchors (Soothe, Notice, Accept, Remain, and Release – this is my language) encouraged us to name and claim our experiences with less reactivity while remaining in relationship with each other.

I found Psalm 90:1-2 a grounding passage while I travelled through this experience. ‘Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.’ As we entered these conversations with a heart of prayer and steeped in the Word of God, we were empowered to do the hard work of reflection and discern a faithful way forward. 

While the work we are being invited to is hard, my hope and prayer is we find ways to engage it with vulnerability, respect, and openness. Reading books like My Grandmother’s Hands in a community of believers allows us to be honest with each other and ourselves because our commitment to love each other surpasses the discomfort that will arise. 

Whether you read this or another book, I encourage you to remain connected and grounded through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who sees us, loves us, and calls us to ongoing growth and transformation so all may experience God’s transformational love.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Erin Swenson-Reinhold.
Chief of Staff and Assistant to the Bishop for Candidacy & Mobility

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