June 23, 2015

Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,

I am back in the United States after twelve days in Zimbabwe. One day there I visited a game park. Among the many animals were five elephants. Four of the elephants arrived at the park together. One, a female, now 44 years old, came before the others. She had no companions and identified with the African buffaloes. She still thinks she is a buffalo and regards herself as their leader.

Imagine never seeing yourself in a mirror or a reflective pool of water. Like the elephant, it is natural to identify with those whom you see. Your body may be different, but your mind focuses upon those around you. In time you regard yourself as one of them.

This happened to me in Africa. I was immersed in a sea of black people. For the first time in my life, I, a white person, regarded myself as black. With tears in my eyes I shared this (using the metaphor of the game park elephant) with the people at St. Mary and All Saints Cathedral in Harare last Sunday when I was their guest preacher. Many of them cried with me. They knew in my sharing this experience I had crossed the racial divide that plagues all of us.

As our nation grieves over the race motivated murders at the A.M.E. Church in Charleston, let us renew within ourselves the power of Pentecost. We have found unity with God from a myriad of differences. As the early Christians heard the Good News spoken as one utterance but each heard it in his or her respective languages, let’s renew the mystery that in our Christian faith we have become one people in spite of our varied socio-economic backgrounds, skin colors, and experiences. The phrase of our nation is apt. E pluribus unum—“Out of many one!” With my love and best wishes, I am,

Your brother in Christ,