In a recent visit to San Antonio, Texas, a group of Sisters took a local bus to explore some of the sites in the city. As I turned to look for a place to sit, a bright yellow seat in the front caught my eye. Written on the seat were the words, “Dedicated to the memory of Rosa Parks.” Of course, I had to sit there and take the opportunity for a photo-op—it was a time to remember.
February has been an important month of remembrance for me. Ever since my early school days, I have recognized it as the month that celebrates the contributions of Black Americans in American History. Black History is American History. You might ask, “Why is there a need to celebrate Black History at a particular time? “ The short answer is that the contributions of Blacks in American society (except the select group we used to learn about in school) are largely ignored or unknown—even by many Blacks. What we do not make an effort to acknowledge or celebrate, we forget. There is great value in the act of remembrance.
The image of the mythical “Sankofa” bird perfectly symbolizes the reason Black History month continues to be important to celebrate. Sankofa is an African word from the Akan people in West Africa that means, “Go back to get it.” The concept is symbolized by a bird with its head turned backwards while its feet face forward, carrying an egg in its mouth-the future. This symbol represents the wisdom of learning from the past to build the future.
While it is significant to Black History, “Sankofa” can also be relevant to other areas of society. I see it as a concept that is important to Dominican life, to the formation of women in the Dominican Sisters of Peace, and to vowed religious life in the 21st century. The call to religious life remains a personal response of love and service to God and to the people of God. But answering the needs of the times and building the Kingdom of God as vowed religious in the 21st century will require transformation and trust. It will require change because we cannot continue the same pathway into the future. It will require trust in the One Who Calls, knowing that the path will be made clearer during the journey. It requires moving forward, but bringing wisdom from the past to build the future—Sankofa.
Perhaps, God is calling you to walk the path with us into the future as a Sister?