“When you lose your sense of fear, you’re free.” –John Lewis, Good Trouble

I like to follow directions. Really, I do. I’ve been asked to offer hope in the midst of pandemic. I’ve searched. My only offering today is my experience of God in the midst of the chaos. I pray it encourages you.

I run when things are chasing me. I once ran from a German Shepherd that looked at me wrong. He won that race. I ran from playground bullies too. Haven’t we all? 

I could have never predicted that running would be my medicine during the pandemic, though. 

What’s that about anyway?

I think it has everything to do with where I am in life. I just finished the M.Div. which wasn’t even on my list of things to do while our boys were still in the house. School in mid-life is challenging. Seminary in mid-life is downright chaotic—on every level of life! So, I’m treasuring the quieter moments to read what I want instead of what was assigned. And I’m deeply grateful for friends who share that journey with me.

Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd is saving my life right now. It is my companion before bed and the thing I run with during the day. In those pages, Aunt Sue introduced me to Ursula K. Le Guin. That woman said an audacious thing (Dance of the Dissident Daughter, 43):

“I am a slow unlearner.  But I love my unteachers.”

(It may be important to recognize that I actively resist unlearning.  And, often, the unteachers.)

Also, my unteachers are weirdly omniscient. 

They are in my ears as I run. I’m pretty sure that I got saved again last week while running to the entire soundtrack from The Greatest Showman. Have you heard those lyrics? Good grief. I’m invited to Come Alive and think about the Million Dreams God places in my heart each day. I get to think about what it means to participate in The Greatest Show and what The Other Side might look like. I usually hit my fastest pace when This Is Me and Tightrope comes on. Here’s the music, let nothing hinder you from being baptized.

Today my unteacher was on the pavement as I ran. It was the cracked, flattened, empty shell of a turtle. Its buddy landed at our house a few weeks ago. We returned that sweet thing safely to its home in the woods. On the way home, I noticed her younger friend dead on the side of the road. These things happened shortly after Aunt Sue taught me that turtles are an ancient mythological symbol of feminine strength and wisdom. That took my breath away. I had to phone a friend.  I’m still processing what it means to return feminine strength to its natural home while running past its death a block from my house (Dance of the Dissident Daughter, 47).

Yesterday, my unteacher was Alicia Crosby who spoke eloquently about understanding the lineage of the moment.  She explained that the white evangelical church is an imperialist space and by definition not a curious space. Imperialist spaces rely on absolutes that create an in and out group. Curiosity threatens that existence. “Be wary of groups that profit on suppression,” my unteacher whispered.  

Usually during every run my yellow butterfly unteachers flitter past. I marvel at their ubiquity, how I never seem to notice them as caterpillars and wonder where all their chrysalises hang. Do they miss the grass? The shell?  What is most beautiful in the new world they experience as they float in the air? 

My unteachers are poets too. Mary Oliver and Jan Richardson keep me breathing. Perhaps the best advice for how to survive a pandemic is Aunt Mary’s advice for how to live a life: Pay attention. Be astounded. Tell about it. 

Friends, I am grateful for the many ways God shows up during this season. I feel that viscerally the sweat and tears of each run. I pray that you see Her too. That They carry you when you cannot carry yourself. That you sense Him welcoming you into partnership as you love as Jesus taught. 

We are forever changed by our shared pandemic experience.  May we be eager participants in the new life God is creating in this moment.  May we press on toward our high calling, running toward a world that flows with justice, mercy, and love. 

Still finding surprising amounts of dust in her sandals, Kelly Moreland Jones, M.Ed., M.Div., is a Pastoral Intern with the beautiful community of Glendale Baptist Church: a caring community of equality and grace in Nashville, TN.  During the work week she is an Analyst in Administrative Technology at Belmont University.  She and her partner are parents to the most amazing sons on the planet and one furry four legged daughter. Kelly has also included the following links to the various sources she mentioned in her blog.


Going to Church Shouldn’t Hurt: Alicia Crosby on Religious Trauma’s Effect on Black Lives from For The Love With Jen Hatmaker Podcast on Apple Podcasts. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/for-the-love-with-jen-hatmaker-podcast/id1258388821?i=1000490463097)

John Lewis: Good Trouble.  Directed by Dawn Porter.  Magnolia Pictures, 2020. Viewed September 2020 from https://www.amazon.com/John-Lewis-Good-Trouble/dp/B087QQQVKC Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_oEkOdIXdo

The Greatest Showman.  Directed by Michael Gracy. 20th Century Fox, 2017. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1485796/ Lyrics available https://genius.com/a/read-all-the-lyrics-to-the-greatest-showman-soundtrack

Monk Kidd, Sue. Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Harper Collins: New York, 2016.

Oliver, Mary. Red Bird: Poems.  Beacon Press: Massachusetts, 2008.