One Saturday afternoon a couple of years ago, I was running on a treadmill at the gym when news broke about the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
I almost tripped over myself. In a couple of hours, I had plans to attend a small group gathering with the people of Beth Shalom in Raleigh. We had planned the gathering weeks in advance. Though their rabbi had invited me, it would be my first time meeting most of the people there.
Over the months leading up to that day, Rabbi Ariel and I had gotten to know one another at meetings concerning the pressures facing families in our area. Those meetings led to the establishment of ONE Wake: a multifaith, multiracial organizing body that aims to tackle issues of common concern with a broad-based and nonpartisan approach.
Back then, however, we didn’t have a name. All we had promised to do was to get to know one another: to sit with people we didn’t yet know, learn what the other person had a heart for, and attempt to find common ground.
In organizing, there is a familiar maxim: the most important tool in an organizer’s toolbox isn’t money, or a sales pitch, or expertise in any one particular issue or concern. The most important tool is the relational meeting—taking the time to get to know another person with genuine interest, cultural humility, and an open mind.
Ariel and I got to know one another. We had lunch together and talked about our hopes for our communities. He was one of our guest speakers at St. Paul’s Lenten forums that year. That Saturday in 2018, I was simply returning the favor.
Once I jumped off the treadmill, I gave Ariel a call. He insisted that I maintain my plans to come to the gathering, and for that invitation, I am grateful. Once I arrived, we had a conversation that I will always treasure. We enjoyed each other’s company in the place we both call home—even in the face of the hate and violence of the world around us.
He and I plan to continue that tradition. Over the next few Tuesdays in May, Ariel and I will host a few sessions over Zoom. We’re calling them Deep Dive with Rabbi Ariel and Father Javier. We will tackle a variety of issues, but we won’t do it in a lecture format. Rather, we just wanted to invite folks to be a part of our continuing conversation.
Sit back, relax, and join us for this experiment. While I can’t make guarantees about the quality of our insights, I can assure you that we intend to have fun with it. And we hope that you will too.
— Fr. Javier
- ONE Wake
- St. Paul’s pastoral letter after the Pittsburgh shooting
- Register for Deep Dive with Rabbi Ariel and Father Javier, Week 1: Vocation
For more parish resources and updates during the global pandemic, visit St. Paul’s Connects.Tags: Deep Dive, From the Clergy, Hope for the Journey