In 2017, Best Supporting Actress winner Viola Davis spoke these words in her acceptance speech, “You know, there’s one place that all of the people with the greatest potential are gathered. One place. And that’s the graveyard. Exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories, the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition.”
The Lenten season is one that challenges my fortitude in wilderness wanderings to exhume what may be laid to rest in my spiritual graveyard, in the graveyard of memory, the unmarked resting places of human history. Lent helps me review the countless stories of unrealized potential, aborted missions and aspirations that were laid to waste because of fear or societal imposed doubt. Skeletal frames of regret shrouded in fragments of hope in the Lenten spiritual graveyard. Yet, life is waiting there, stories demanding to be told, and a measure of justice served in the mere act of telling.
It takes courage to exhume the sacredness of the stories, their life-giving capacity, their bodacious boldness, their fragility and vulnerability, presented unapologetically to a world that often refuses to listen. Lent allows me to see the unseen behind the dust of the wilderness. To see them clearly, hear their trumpet call, each telling their story, which is also our story. The bent one, the bleeding one, the outcast water carrying one, the demon possessed one, the anointing one, the weeping one, and the go telling one. Each one compelling, urging, in fact demanding that I live as boldly. If I am to claim my voice in their ranks I must use it, not in timidity but in the power of the gospel that has been proclaimed, and always with the voice of women.
There is Life in the exhaling in the graveyard, the desert, the wilderness. Then, now, and not yet, Life. Early in the morning it speaks, proclaims itself and reminds me, “You are someone’s ancestor, govern yourself accordingly!” I am charged to live the answer to the question, “What did you do when. . .?” Resurrection is my answer. It is in me, authentically, without hesitation or reservation, it is in me. It is GOOD news that defies gender or color, time and space. “Exhume those bodies” and hear the story again, tell it again, “Christ is risen!” He has risen indeed.
Rev. Marilyn Fiddmont is the Vice President of Christian Church Foundation and serves the Southwest Zone and the Northeastern Region. In this capacity, she works with congregations, entities, and donors in the ministry of accumulated resources. Rev. Fiddmont has served in a variety of capacities throughout the life of the denomination including DSF, where she served on the Board of Trustees and is the past Board Chair. She is currently pursuing a D.Min. with a specialization in preaching. When not engaged in her ministry roles, Rev. Fiddmont enjoys learning piano, reading, and traveling.