While reading Liberating the Politics of Jesus: Renewing Peace Theology through the Wisdom of Women, edited by Darryl Stephens, I was surprised by an image from Toni Morrison I expect I have read but had lost along the way.

Morrison claims the cross was an early and universal symbol, indicating a “standing human figure poised to embrace.”

The reminder came from a chapter in the Liberating book by Linda Gehman Peachey, “Salvation for the Sinned Against.” That chapter referenced a dissertation by Malinda Elizabeth Berry, “The Mark of a Standing Human Figure Poised to Embrace: A Constructive Theology of Social Responsibility, Nonviolence, and Nonconformity.”

In tracking down more about this Mennonite theologian, I thought the conclusion of an article by Berry could give enough-comfort-to-stimulate-courage that would be appreciated by any still reading here.

“Morrison calls us to take another, deeper look at something we have seen countless times and think we understand. Looking deeply into the mystery of this mark, this sigh, this intersection, this crossroad, we have the opportunity to discern the true meaning of formation that both shapes us and prepares us for transformation that reshapes us. The next time you look into, rather than at, a cross, may you see a human figure, alive with the spark of Adonai’s primordial fire and poised to embrace you.”

If you stumble across this in some distant future, it is currently found at The Center for Mennonite Writing, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2011  (https://mennonitewriting.org/journal/3/3/poised-embrace/).

A shift from judgment to embrace is a 1,000 league step. It would be good to do plenty of stretching exercises before attempting this journey as it promises to put all manner of tight muscles unused to such welcoming.

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