Why Praying with Our Feet Matters More Than Ever

Emelda De Coteau
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Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
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Photo Credit: Vlad Tchompalov

The world is erupting – climate change, institutionalized racism, economic inequality, the destructive ideology of white supremacy which is rapidly rolling back gains of civil rights advocates in multiple spheres. Folks of faith can no longer pray passively, hoping things improve, while sticking our heads down in bibles and looking away because it’s uncomfortable. Prayer demands an active partnership with God to birth change.

How can we love God yet remain silent about the cruel treatment of the most marginalized among us – communities of color, the differently abled (physical and mental challenges) women, folks of various gender and sexual identities, and the poor, many of whom experience intermittent homelessness, despite scraping together a living working multiple jobs. “Almost a third of U.S. workers (41.7 million people) now earn less than $12 an hour. Nearly half (58.3 million) earn less than $15 an hour, ” according to an article in Fast Company.

Isolating ourselves means many continue to suffer alone because we choose complacency over meaningful change and connecting with the larger world. My friend Lenora quoted Rabbi Heschel on Instagram last year, and I couldn’t get what she said out of my mind – the importance of praying with our feet. And I began to looking into the story behind the phrase:

“When Rabbi Heschel returned from Selma, he was asked by someone, ‘Did you find much time to pray, when you were in Selma?’ Rabbi Heschel responded, ‘I prayed with my feet.’  What was his point? That his marching, his protesting, his speaking out for Civil Rights was his greatest prayer of all.”

As I continued contemplating the Rabbi’s words, it felt as if I found the faith I sought for so long, one rooted in a “radical revolution of values,” as Dr. King said towards the end of his life. I thought of Proverbs 31:8-9, which urges us to speak up for the poor, those who are judged unfairly. Then I began listening to and reading James Cone, who lifted up black liberation theology which places the suffering Jesus endured in a wider context of oppression:

The Christian community, therefore, is that community that freely becomes oppressed, because they know that Jesus himself has defined humanity’s liberation in the context of what happens to the little ones. Christians join the cause of the oppressed in the fight for justice not because of some philosophical principle of “the Good” or because of a religious feeling of sympathy for people in prison. Sympathy does not change the structures of injustice. The authentic identity of Christians with the poor is found in the claim which the Jesus-encounter lays upon their own life-style, a claim that connects the word “Christian” with the liberation of the poor. Christians fight not for humanity in general but for themselves and out of their love for concrete human beings.

God of the Oppressed, James Cone

These last few weeks have reignited my passion to return to blogging after nearly a year away. While I kept some of my social media updated, I was not quite sure of what I wanted to fully convey on the blog, but now, with the help of God I am. Live In Color blog is becoming Pray with Our Feet blog, which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism, with pieces on the lessons I am learning along the journey of motherhood.

I believe in the power of art (writing, visual art, etc.) and faith to spark change. I am creating this online space to refute the common narrative of Christian apathy about domestic and world events. It’s also a space to challenge the all to common practice in many churches of avoiding what is uncomfortable, this unwillingness to cultivate authentic discussions about the toxicity of systemic racism and other forms exclusions. There are too many folks of faith clinging to a false narrative of color blindness (differences don’t have to divide us), bristling at the mention of black lives matter (or the affirmation of any other marginalized group), while ignoring Trump’s abhorrent treatment of women and anyone else who differs from him, simply because he self identifies as a Christian.

Praying with our feet means consistently questioning “truths” society feeds us, coming off of our knees and into the world, sharing Christ’s radical love with everyone, the message of salvation and hope, and examining our own motives daily: Are we uplifting the status quo or disrupting it as Jesus did throughout his time on earth? What matters more – your comfort or commitment to creating a world of light, beauty and justice? Will you pray passively or in the spirit of transformation?

“Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.” Zephaniah 3:10

Why Putting Your Faith Into Action Matters 

Emelda De Coteau
Follow Me:

Emelda De Coteau

Mother, wife, sister, friend, writer / blogger / creative organizer, budding photographer... These are just a few of the many hats I juggle each day. I believe creativity is oxygen for the soul. I created Live In Color blog to celebrate the beauty in every moment, from faith to inspiration and motherhood.And it is soon becoming Pray with Our Feet blog which will focus on the intersection of faith and activism. Follow the inspiration on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/praywithourfeetblog/
Emelda De Coteau
Follow Me:

Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Proverbs 31:8-9

As the busy Mama of a toddler, it’s tough to hit the bathroom solo, let alone go on an outing! Y’all, the struggle is real! So when Mom and Dad asked me to dinner, and said my brother would join us, I declared Daddy daughter time in our household and raced for my keys. Since there were only a few hours left before Nai’s bedtime, we headed over to Clark Burger. For months I drove past wistfully thinking of sitting under those expansive umbrellas, eating slowly, enveloped by city sounds, and now, we were here.

Our conversation, punctuated by bursts of laughter, bounced from the guilty pleasure of reality TV to news, and all the mundane stuff which somehow feels infinitely more interesting when you’re with family. I looked over between bites of the veggie burger and then I saw him, sitting, face sunken from fatigue, worn pale skin, brown eyes pleading for us to see him.

His whispers for spare change lost in the euphoria of a balmy Friday summer night. Dad, I said, “we have to help him.” “Of course,” he nodded in agreement. Before I knew it, I was digging in my purse for money. As we finished our meal, I kept my eyes not only on his lanky frame, but the people passing. No one stopped.

Too often, even Christians approach issues of poverty, systemic racism, exclusion of folks who are differently abeled, etc., by simply walking along, content to espouse flowery words of love once a week, while pushing them aside Monday – Saturday.

Photo Credit: Tamara Menzi
But friends, people are in pain, and more than ever they need the radical love of Christ and compassion. They may never open a bible, but they will meet you. Your life is a testament to the Father’s love. Let’s not turn away because it’s too tough. God is calling us to infinitely more.

Jesus loved, healed, and delivered people everyone else shunned – the tax collector, those with physical challenges and relationship issues (remember the woman at the well?). This is what we are called to do through our daily walk. “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).

As we handed him the money, he thanked us profusely, and then did something I will never forget. He looked toward heaven and praised God for this unexpected blessing, nearly in tears. For the past few weeks, as I reflect on our meeting, I am reminded of another scripture passage, Matthew 25: 35-40:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

Photo Credit: Emelda De Coteau
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Let us cling to love instead of judgement, extending empathy before condemnation. God freely gives us His love not to confine it inside of four walls, but to share with everyone.

How do you give back in your community and put your faith into action? 

Stay Informed & Involved:  

I love Sojourner’s magazine, it’s a progressive Christian publication and website which looks at all that is unfolding through eyes of faith and social justice.  I recently discovered Christian Left, another online space for liberal Christians.

National Coalition For the Homeless (donate and get involved).

Back on my Feet, ” a national organization operating in 12 major cities coast to coast, combats homelessness through the power of running, community support and essential employment and housing resources.”