• Kate Werneburg

Never Turing Back

They are enormous, and simple. Attainable, and a life’s work. These requirements are what we can turn towards as we refuse to turn back.


We're going to keep on walking forward. Never turning back. Pat Humphries

I used to work for a congregation that sang “Never Turning Back” by Pat Humphries as a hymn, usually in June, Pride Month.

The lyrics, without the repeats, are as follows:

“We’re going to keep on walking forward

Never turning back

We’re going to keep on walking proudly

Never turning back

We’re going to keep on singing loudly

Never turning back

We’re going to keep on loving boldly

Never turning back

We’re going to work for change together

Never turning back

We’re going to keep on walking forward

Never turning back”

In the past few months, a global pandemic has engulfed us, and Black and Indigenous people have led us into a racial revolution.

This is a moment of uncertainty, uprising, and for many, fear.

I pray we never turn back.

When the pandemic hit, I managed my own panic by focusing on the future: could we use this crucible to come out a better society, with more and better care? Could we use this awful happening to emerge with more equality, more security for all?

When the revolution began, after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi, I began a period of deep personal examination, learning, and action.

How can we ever go back to the injustices we lived with before?

We have arrived at this moment in history, when so many people do not have what they need to live well, due to cruelty, mismanagement, and selfishness.

But we can emerge from it better than we went in.

There will be tremendous pressure to return to the old status quo. In my area, I see this already happening.

But I also see less tolerance for classism and racism in broad society, more support for activism and community care.

A better world, where we truly take care of each other, will not happen simply, or it seems, directly. But we can be galvanized to work harder, love better, not settle for a return to “normal” that harms so many, maybe even ourselves.

From my faith tradition, I hear the words of the Prophet Micah echoed in Pat’s song, and in this moment:

“What does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?”

Micah 6:8

This is a text I’ve carried in my heart since I found it printed on the front of the Grade 8 career choice workbooks we were given.

Whatever we do, whatever job, task, or lifestyle we embody, all we must fulfill are those three requirements: to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Love.

They are enormous, and simple.

They are attainable, and a life’s work.

Regardless of your position on faith and spirituality, I hope the spirit of this passage resonates with you.

These requirements are what we can turn towards as we refuse to turn back.

-Kate

What have the recent global changes called you to? What have they called you to walk away from, never turning back?

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