Ten days ago I photographed the 2013-14 class of Beatitudes Society’s Fellows during their retreat in Berkeley, California. The Beatitudes Society is a national Progressive Christian organization that selects emerging faith leaders who have demonstrated an ability to lead. (You can view my photos at this link.)
Originally, I had wanted to photograph the new class a day earlier so that I could photograph a country artist known for his song about worlds crashing down at a red light on a Sunday; however, when Anna Woofenden, the new Fellowship Program Associate, requested that I visit on October 16th, I realized that I had a bigger choice.
I could spend the 45th Anniversary of Tommie Smith’s Gold Medal victory with fellow travelers or I could continue chasing red lights.
I chose to be with Anna, Rev. Anne Howard and the new class of The Beatitude Society Fellows. I chose correctly.
During the photography session, I remembered the sacrifice that Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Australian Peter Norman had performed 45 years earlier in a Mexico City stadium. When the three athletes returned home, they were isolated for protesting extreme “Progressive” causes such as apartheid. All three men stood as symbols to those who might consider resisting power. You will sacrifice, even if you win Gold and History proves you correct.
Anna Woofenden, pictured above, had been a Fellow in 2011. One of the highlights this year’ visit was meeting her and finding her blog. She posted one of her sermons, “Being Broken Open”, where she discusses how God is with us even when we are broken. The sermon comforted me. Just to be clear, “being broken” is not comforting, but reading Anna’s interpretation about sacrifice and God helped me realize,
“Of course God is with us when we are broken. It’s the least God can do.”
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. Psalm 51:17 (found on Anna’s blog)
The Fellows are chosen, in part, because of their willingness to sacrifice. The program connects those who sacrifice so that they will become more effective leaders. The program also creates a support system. As I read Psalm 51 again, I realize that those who sacrifice often lose more than the support of their community. Those who sacrifice often lose their minds. They lose their spirit, their heart and their God.