It was 2017 and I was newly pregnant with my first child. However, amid this joyous occasion hate crimes were on the rise, immigrants were being detained and caged at the border, black lives were continuing to be in jeopardy, and white supremacists were organizing and newly emboldened. It was the beginning of an especially dark time in our country’s history. It was during that time when I also had the opportunity to hear these words from civil rights leader, Valarie Kaur:
And so the mother in me asks, what if. What if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb? But the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead? But a country that is waiting to be born. What if the story of America is one long labor? … What if this is our nation’s great transition? …
In her new book, See No Stranger A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, Valarie Kaur– renowned Sikh* activist, filmmaker, and civil rights lawyer – declares that revolutionary love is the call of our time, a radical, joyful practice that extends in three directions: to others, to our opponents, and to ourselves. It enjoins us to see no stranger but instead look at others and say: You are a part of me I do not yet know.
Kaur’s articulates a vision for love grounded in her own Sikh faith. In so doing, she provides an interfaith opportunity of sorts for the reader to reflect more deeply on their own faith tradition. As Christians, we cannot help but consider how the elements that Valarie so beautifully lifts out of her own tradition: darkness, light, tombs, birth, strangers, and welcome, are also central to Christian Scripture. We are reminded in Matthew 25:35, For I was a stranger and you welcomed me. Indeed, Christ’s own life, death, and resurrection embody revolutionary love.
Over three consecutive Sundays in November we will explore See No Stranger and consider the place of revolutionary love in our own life, faith, and in the ministry of West Raleigh Presbyterian Church. Kaur’s book is divided in to three sections: loving others, loving opponents, and loving ourselves. We will spend one Sunday on each section of the book. You are invited to read Valarie’s memoir and join us as we discern how to practice revolutionary love and discover how God is calling us to see no stranger.
If you would like to order a book through the church for a discounted rate, contact the church office by Monday, October 26
In addition to reading the book, this TED Talk presentation by Valarie Kaur is a great introduction to the topic of revolutionary love.
*A note about the Sikh faith. First, pronunciation! "Sikh" is pronounced as "Sick" and "Sikhs" pronounced as "Six". “Sikh” rhymes with “click.” Sikh is frequently mispronounced as “Seek” but that is the anglicization of the word. The Wikipedia page on Sikhs is a helpful, albeit quick, resource: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikhs See No Stranger is your best resources for learning more about this faith tradition that 25 million people adhere to worldwide.
Rev. Katie Cashwell and her family have been worshipping at WRPC since moving to Raleigh in the summer of 2019. Katie has served congregations in Washington, DC and Annapolis. Katie most recently served for five years on staff at Montreat, working with the youth, college and women’s conferences. In addition to being full time mom for her two young sons Katie enjoys yoga, baking, reading fiction and plenty of outdoor activities. When recently received as a member of New Hope Presbytery Katie wrote: “I believe the church should be a leader in exploring how the Christian faith might best offer its voice to pressing contemporary issues.”