In December, 2016, the GPC staff took a field trip to visit the recently opened National Museum of African American History and Culture. It was a deeply moving experience for all of us. The museum is organized chronologically with the beginnings of the slave industry in the basement, to the top floor featuring exhibits displaying the cultural, political, and societal achievements of African Americans in modern times. I was particularly impacted by that top floor. Out of the historic ingredients of injustice, inequality and persecution displayed on the floors below should have come something equally ugly. Ugly in, ugly out, right? Instead, exactly the opposite is true. The contributions on display represent the defining examples of beauty and joy that our country has produced.
This Sunday, for World Refugee Sunday, one of the GPC choir baritones, Jim Williams, will sing two African American Spirituals. As with the top floor of the NMAAHC, the Spirituals are the logic defying results of profound meaning and beauty emerging from the horrific ingredients of slavery. The slaves were the ultimate example of a dispossessed people. From their circumstances we would not have expected musical beauty to arise and yet it did.
Life is challenging for all of us, in different ways. I pray that, from my own life’s struggles, I can follow in the example of those who wrought beauty and joy from unspeakable cruelty and hatred.