By Yani Davis
“We who believe in Freedom Cannot Rest.” Ella Baker
This week is the second week of advent and focuses on the theme of peace. When we think of peace, we think of serenity, awareness and a lack of violence. When I think of peace, I equate it with freedom. A freedom to live, a freedom to express, a freedom to breathe deep in the skin we were so graciously blessed with by The Creator.
Why are we facing a troubled reality around the world where so much of what we see is violence against black and brown bodies? How far have we come when Trans brothers and sisters are shot and killed for no reason other than showing up as the truest form of themselves. How do we reconcile peace and justice in a world that operates as if it hates such notions. Is freedom no longer the ideal for our land and people?
photo credit: npr.org
Similarly in our world, we see how violence is the most pervasive image we see from Paris, France to San Bernardino, California. We are losing members of our global village at astounding rates. Just this year it is estimated over 312 Trans women were killed due to violent acts of hate. There have been close to 350 mass shootings in America and no one seems to have a solution.
In this advent season, we are conflicted. We find ourselves wanting to know more of God’s peace but are stuck and struck with the realities of violence. Violence against people’s hearts, spirits and minds. We are seeking more of God’s peace, more of God’s love and more wisdom and understanding.
photo credit: usnews.com
Today, I sit with the tension of what it means to be a spiritual leader and have very little hope, very little understanding and very little peace to share with those I love. My community is seeking answers and wondering what do we do next to combat a world of violence and rage that has never learned the value of justice, equity and solidarity.
Jesus left us with these words and may they start to sink into our conciseness as a people who believe our burdens will soon be lifted. The yokes we are presently faced with are almost to the point of being too much to bare. We are in need of Spirit’s presence more than ever.
Matthew 11:28-30New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
My hope this holiday season and for the coming year 2016 is that, we the people, the lovers of life and those dedicated to a better world would share meals, laughter, love and light with one another. I pray we find rest for our souls so we can continue doing the work we are called to do. We cannot infiltrate the systems of oppression as swiftly as we would like but what we can do is make sure we are not committing acts of violence against our brothers and sisters this season and coming year. We can make sure our love is genuine and true. We can make sure we are “humble in heart” and speak gently to the souls around us. We can serve as the freedom our neighbor so desperately needs. Continue loving one another as communities of life giving abundance so that one day-someday soon- peace, love and freedom, may prevail.
YANI DAVIS- Iyana Davis, also known as YaNi, is a graduate of Spelman College with an English degree. She has always been passionate about words and the transformation that can be found in writing them down and sharing them aloud. YaNi believes firmly in our power as storytellers and sets this example everyday of her life. YaNi has been a featured artist and speaker around the United States and Europe. She has spoken at some of the nations top universities, colleges, churches and has performed in well known performance venues.
Gigging in schools and press-heavy community events alongside noted names in the literary and music world such as Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall and Pearl Cleage, and opening for headliners like Janelle Monae, J. Holiday and Dwele has aligned YaNi with industry leaders that continue to propel her brand. She has been a guest panelist and performer at some of the nation’s most noted venues and institutions, including Spelman College, Morehouse College, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, St. Johns University, University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Kentucky State University and Barnard College.
YaNi currently resides in California, but calls Atlanta and Queens, NY home. She is a graduate student at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Intern, Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church
Founder, The Peace People’s Movement www.peacepeoplenow.com