The Clearing Grows Through Community Conversations
The Clearing is growing! In the past year, this emerging spiritual community centering the voices, experiences, and liberation of queer and trans people of color and open to all, has been deepening its work in Durham, NC.
Transforming Hearts Collective co-leaders LeLaina Romero and Rev. Mykal Slack, along with a group of close friends and chosen family in Durham, connected around a common vision for spiritual community that none of them had found in the area, but were longing for. We co-created spaces for rest, renewal, and uplift in the midst of HB2 repeal efforts, facilitated honest and pain-filled dialogue in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, and held visioning sessions to lay the groundwork for a series of community conversations to help identify leaders and continue to cultivate and curate what this new spiritual adventure can and should be.
The first two community conversations took place this spring—the first at the LGBTQ Resource Center at North Carolina Central University and the second at the LGBTQ Center of Durham—to explore people’s hopes for spiritual community. More than thirty people participated—people of color, queer folks, and trans/non-binary folks, ranging in age from 9 months old to 60+. Our time together was filled with the sounds and feels of babies playing and elders sharing; bread being cut, salads getting dressed, soup heating up; gratitude for the openness and the willingness to share what’s real, what’s hard, and what’s good, among new friends.
We learned that, for folks to show up fully, they wanted a multigenerational, nonjudgmental space to share meals and music, be outdoors together, hear cool sermons, learn from sacred texts, and make art. We also learned that, because of past pain in spiritual spaces, understanding how to show up as an anti-oppressive, multi-faith, multi-vocal space will take time and intention.
We visioned and dreamed together, and made a plan for sharing monthly dinners, finding the joy and release of dance and moving our bodies, embracing the power of ritual, and reclaiming public space out in the world, as well as building an evolving team of visionaries and organizers that will continue to breathe life and love and meaning into this community. And we continue to dream about engaging trans/non-binary communities in altar-building in places where we gather and connecting with local artists and musicians about creating art spaces and dance parties as places for healing. Ashe!