In the days following our 2016 Presidential Election, I have struggled to discern how I will personally respond to the outcome. I have been flooded with strong feelings such as Anger, Denial, Rage, Hope, and Fear. I have wavered between Acceptance, Grief and Holy Outrage. I am not sure which of these feelings or positions will take up permanent residence in my heart. I have been seeking resolution of my internal conflicts.
I wondered who I could turn to for help in sorting through my feelings and discerning my ever-evolving vocation.
Various prophets, preachers and teachers came to mind. One stood out among all: Dr. Verna Dozier. Verna was a much beloved professor at Virginia Theological Seminary by the time I was a student there in the late 1980’s. Previously, she had taught high school English in Washington, DC during the 60’s and 70’s…tumultuous times of civil rights demonstrations, desegregation, rioting in the streets and general unrest.
One day I asked Verna how she survived those times. She laughed and said that her students thought she was cool because she wore a beret and must have led them to believe that she was one of the Black Panthers who fostered civil unrest. That must have saved her as she struggled to teach inner city students about the works of Shakespeare and other literary giants.
Dr. Dozier was far from an anarchist but she did believe in shaking things up. She became well known in the Episcopal Church for her call to wake us up to the Dream that God had for all of us…to be doers of the Word and not just bystanders.
I was privileged to take her class on “The Bible and Contemporary Society.” She taught us how to look at the world with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Verna encouraged us to reach out to people of all different backgrounds and to engage in social justice to bring about the Dream God has for our world.
Verna is a prophet for our times and I am calling on her for wisdom and discernment in the weeks and months and years ahead. I have re-ordered her book: “The Dream of God: Our Call to Return.” My copy from seminary days got left behind somewhere in the many moves I have made in the last three decades. But her words still ring out in my heart. I will be sharing excerpts from her work in future blogs, and hopefully her wisdom will take root and help guide us through this tumultuous time.
May we join together in action and prayer as we seek Peace and Justice for all, Mary Anne+
(Photo was taken of me with Dr. Verna Dozier at my installation as Associate Rector of Good Shepherd, Dunedin, FL in January 1995. Verna was the preacher and soul friend extraordinaire.)