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 God’s Grace Changes Everything 

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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Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.” -Dwight Lyman Moody

There I was sitting along the curb adjacent to the supermarket shaking. I am sure I made quite a pitiful site – disheveled hair, mascara running, flip flops partly coming off. As I waited for the tow truck to move my car from the scence of the accident, two young women asked if I wanted them to buy me something to drink – lemonade, juice, or soda?

I thanked them profusely, and as my mind settled hours later, I began to liken the experience to God’s grace for us – unexpected, kind, loving, affirming, and showing up when we lest expect it.
He meets us right where we are, whether on a parking lot or on our bathroom floor. Ever fatihful, He guides us through each trial.

These past few years, I find my prayers are soaked with tears. I am believing for what I cannot see, and battling voices who would have me surrender to defeat. Each time I want nothing more than to wallow in sorrow, God sends a prophetic word, a sign I have asked for lately, or someone with a kind word. Grace in action, friends.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain… ” Hebrews 6:19 

Do you feel undeserving of the Father’s love today? Have you done something you say disqualifies you from being a candidate for redemption? I assure you, God is there, and He has been all along, waiting to hear your voice.

Your words need not be flowery or refined, just come as you are in this moment – broken, weary, confused, doubtful or frustrated. He knew these feelings would attempt to decimate your spirits before you were born. And He waits. God so longs to demonstrate the depth of His grace in our lives.

Relax. There is nothing you or I can do to earn it. Our assignment is simply accepting it and telling others they too can receive this tremendous gift. God’s Grace – infinite, expansive and rooted in radical love which defies all human understanding. I pray, friends, that like me, you will accept it. God is here, amid all the noise and messiness of our lives, waiting to comfort and restore your peace. 

Why Activism & Creating Affirming Spaces for Women Moves Me

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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Black Womyn Rising (May 2016)

Ever since elementary school, I have stood up against any perceived injustice. Not on a picket line, more subtly I suppose, as my early protesting involved befriending kids others made fun of or ignored.

On the weekends, Dad told my brother and I stories about his life, the years he spent in Hounduras before coming to the U.S. We learned about his childhood, both the simple beauty and abject poverty. Those expressive eyes held a tinge of sadness as he told us about wearing shoes only on Sundays, as they walked to church; they traveled to school barefoot.

I sat there, all of 6 or 7, fully absorbed, unable to push the sentences about hardship back, tears and anger welled within me. Of course he said, “don’t cry,” “I’m fine now, Meldy” (his nickname for me), and yet, as he hugged me tenderly, smelling of cologne and peppermint, I couldn’t shake the heaviness of it all.

Why did I have shoes and clothes and other children didn’t? It felt absurd, cruel and unfair, and I wanted to change something, however small. I always felt a deep desire to transform the world in my own way, bringing light and beauty.

All these years later, I finally feel I am walking into my purpose as an activist, organizer, and cultivator of affirming spaces for women. Sometimes God must remove the noise, distractions and barriers which are hindering us from growth.

Rocking a shirt given to me by my good friend Kayla (includes names of Black womyn and girls murdered or assaulted by police)

And I suppose this is how I have come to work with Black Womyn Rising, an intergenerational organizing collective  I helped found with several other sistas based in Baltimore. Our work is intersectional (meaning we seek to understand how various forms of oppression operate and  impact black womyn and girls), and rooted in transformative love and global sistahood.

We are deeply concerned with resisting all forms of oppression and actively creating affirming spaces for womyn of color.  In the spirit of Nina Simone and so many other foremamas, we uplift the beauty, complexity and the rich layers of blackness.

While social justice and activism are a deep part of my soul, so, too, is creativity. Writing, photographing, sketching, these outlets are oxygen for me. Last year I founded Women Creatives Chat, a community that lives online for now (working on planning some events) whose mission is to inspire, empower (through tips, resources and regular Instachats), and connect my fellow creatives with one another.

Since launching on Instagram late last year, it’s growing daily. And I feel blessed to follow and connect with women from all around the world who are creating and trusting their unique visions. You and I truly can have the life we seek and dream about it. It begins with clarity, which I believe is rooted in prayer, a personal relationship with God and radical self love.

Graphic designed by Emelda De Coteau Founder, Women Creatives Chat

 

Anyway, enough about me! What sets your heart on fire? What do you feel called to give to the world?  I want to hear all about it in the comments below, sweet friends.