Last Wednesday I had the great privilege of hearing Adrienne Maree Brown speak at this event, “Octavia’s Brood Tour in Boston: Black to the Future,” hosted by the brilliant Boston-based organizers Intelligent Mischief. I hope a future post will be a continued reflection on this rich experience, sharing more about this amazing new book and speculative fiction for movement building more broadly. This post, however, is about follower-ship.
Adrienne led us in a profound and grounding opening meditation and was about halfway through her talk when I turned to my partner and said, “I’m following her.”
I don’t mean I’m following Adrienne on Instagram or her blog (though I am). And I don’t mean idol worship. I mean the recognition that this person has uncovered something about this world – and even other worlds! – and that I could benefit from being led by their talk and walk.
And it’s not just Adrienne. I’m following Wendell Berry and Chimamanda Adichie (that commencement speech!).
I’ve come to understand that devotion – or discipleship – is age-old. All of us stumble into teachers, sages, and prophets throughout our lives, and we surrender to the wisdom and insight their lives and work example for us.
It’s possible all of this sounds completely normal to you, but it has not been for me. For years I thought people who followed were brainwashed or weak. Secular political culture carries a suspicion of devotion and it had made me ultra-wary of those professing to have a guru or be under the tutelage of someone.
And yet, it has always been this way. We have always been following.
Last night, I was sharing about last week’s event and what I was learning from Adrienne, and a friend told me I had stars in my eyes. And I do. I could sit at Adrienne’s feet for days. Or Charles Eisenstein’s. Or Grace Lee Boggs’. And I am not ashamed.
I’ll close with this video of Adrienne singing to Grace Lee Boggs on her 95th birthday, at the end of which she bows to Grace. Years ago, this would have alarmed me. Now, I bow to Grace – and Adrienne – as well.
image credit: top – j3ssl33 devotees’ song