Rev. Janet Maykus

Interim Minister Janet Maykus

February brings Valentine’s Day and Black History Month.

We should never pass an opportunity to tell someone we love them. Years ago, after a series of sad events, my beloved started posting on Facebook “Good Night, I Love You” each night, and “Good Morning, I Love You” each morning. He knew it made him feel better to tell people he loved them, and he hoped it would make others feel good. As his life turned from sadness to happiness, he stopped posting his declarations of love to the world. To his surprise, people contacted him and asked what happened to his posts. He began to hear stories of how that little love note to the world affected others.

Years later, he continues with these posts, and, at least once a week, someone tells him how much they look forward to being told they are loved. Today you’ll hear him ending each phone call with something like, “Thank you, I appreciate you” or “Goodbye, I love you”. He even says this to telemarketers: “Thank you for calling me because I wanted to tell you that I want to be off your list. Thank you, I know your job is hard.” Watching this unfold, I’ve learned that love is never in short supply; in fact, the more we love the more love we have to give. Love is also contagious. If we start sharing our love, others follow. The light of love is something in which we all want to bask.

So, I invite you to give it a try. Don’t resist telling everyone you love them. You will get so much more than you expect in return.

Just as we shouldn’t reserve love for one day of the year, we shouldn’t reserve celebrating and learning the history of the African diaspora for one month of the year. At Duke Divinity School, one of our required courses was Black Church History. Being a history buff, I was excited to delve into what was, for me, unknown territory. My eyes were opened to a world that was operating right beside me that I had never explored or had even been encouraged to explore. Everyday, Americans are touched by something be it food, culture, or religion that has its roots in the unholy slave trade.

This month, I also invite you to explore Black History. Re-read Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, check out the sculpture of Austin’s very own Margo Sawyer, attend one of Jennifer Rousseau Cumberbatch’s performances at the Neill-Cochran House Museum, make it to The Elephant Room when Ephraim Owens is playing, go to the Blackout Market at the African American Cultural and Heritage Center on February 22, read anything by C. Eric Lincoln, learn about the work of (Disciples of Christ) minister, The Reverend Doctor William Barber II, and every time you have a cup of coffee, look back to Ethiopia. Once you get started, you’ll realize that you will need much more than one short month to explore this rich and textured history.

As with any real exploration of history, there is deep and raw pain in America’s Black history. The sins of slavery continue to haunt and hurt all of us. Perhaps if we hold each other in love, every day, one day we will work to true repentance and reconciliation.

So, here’s to a month-long journey of love and exploration!