Come Join the Jubilee Feast
Welcome, dear friends, to this Jubilee table.
The audio is a recording of the written piece by Kateri Boucher for Geez Out Loud.
We have arrived here from different places. We have brought different dishes to pass. But finally, for a few moments at least, we are here to feast together. There are elbows bumping, plates clattering, children babbling, elders story-telling, and mouths “mmm”ing. There is deep belly joy. There is whole-hearted laughter and relief.
This is the spirit of Jubilee that we feel beckoning us, that we hope carries through the pages that follow.
And yet . . . We know that our stories of Jubilee today will not simply tell of celebration. We know that under that feasting table there are also tired feet and aching backs. Amid the joyful ruckus there is a quiet longing for all that isn’t here yet. There are sighs of mourning for all the Jubilees deferred.
We bring all of that to this table together. As Johari Jabir writes on page 29, his Juneteenth/Jubilee celebration includes both anthems of solidarity and psalms of lament; sorrow songs and trumpets of love.
As I sit down in front of this Jubilee feast, I also find myself holding many tensions. When I hear about this tradition of rest, release, and letting the land lay fallow, I feel ready to turn off my computer screen, cancel my commitments, and go lay in a field for the rest of the day (or year?). But when I remember how the tradition relates to prison abolition, debt forgiveness, reparations, and land redistribution, I feel urgently aware of how far we are from a true Jubilee – how much work there is left for each of us to do.
On an editorial call leading up to this issue, Céline Chuang referred to the practice of Jubilee as both “the now and the not yet.” Similarly, on page 34 of this issue, Nathan Davis Hunt names Jubilee as both an event and a process. Yes, there is still so far to go. And yes, we dare declare: what we long for is already somehow here.
So as we come together at this long and bountiful table, we celebrate. We sing. We rub each other’s tired feet. And we ask: How do we prepare for the Jubilee(s) to come? How do we continue honouring the Jubilee(s) already in our midst? What debts would we need forgiven in order to fully rest? What are we hoarding, what are we holding captive, that we might finally need to release?
We know that the work will be hard. It will make us release what our fingers grasp onto until our knuckles turn blue. But we believe (as does scripture) that releasing our fears and wealth and debts will turn us closer to each other and birth surprising joy.
And at some point in our celebration, as children begin to doze on shoulders and the music begins to fade, we find ourselves growing quieter too. We feel a great stillness reaching up around us, reaching up from the dirt, the roots, the worms and mycelium and microbes below. They, too, are both tired and celebrating. And we hear the land itself begin to speak of all the rest and freedom it has been longing for. And we hear it sing with joy of all the Jubilees that are to come.
Kateri Boucher is associate editor for Geez and a member of Detroit’s Catholic Worker community.