Learn how to weep not in way that paralyzes us but moves us more in the way of action.
-John Philip Newell
I used to road bike a lot. I pedaled my way through the backroads of Boulder County, climbing into the foothills, grazing the neighborhoods, cruising through the farmland, counting the uptick of miles on my odometer. Training for an Ironman a few years back meant large chunks of time in the saddle. For hours leading up, I would be a bundle of nerves and dread, fearing I’d get lost or pop a tube or run out of fuel or be miserable. Once I tossed on the clothes and buckled my helmet, loaded the hundreds of gel calories in my pockets and clipped my pedals, I was good to go. Within a mile, the voices quieted, nerves calmed, heart rate eased, shoulders relaxed and I was able to settle in for the long day’s ride. Rarely was the ride as horrible as I anticipated.
Our local roads can be steep, abutting the mountains. Some of the climbs are a challenge to even the most experienced of riders. From a distance the inclines appear daunting, unmanageable. But as I approach and begin the climb, perspective shifts. The hill seems flatter. What once loomed as an impossibility becomes possible upon arrival. Isn’t that true for most things? The dread of the unknown is worse than the moving through?
I have in the course of this season, with the nomination and election of Donald Trump, dipped my toe in the pool of despair. I have succumbed to the temptation of hopelessness. I have accepted the pull of disappointment, moodiness, sleeplessness and fear. While uncomfortable, I am grateful, for my experiences have revealed a deeper understanding of what many experience on a constant basis because of skin color, sexuality, race, religion, disability.
As the uphill approaches, my perspective shifts. The Inauguration looms, yet my dread begins to diminish. None of this good work will come easy for people motivated by love, justice, kindness and wisdom, yet the job becomes clear. Fight. Fight for people who don’t have the voice. Fight for people who need relief. Fight for justice and generosity and love. People are mobilizing. Creativity is flourishing, and resistance will not be futile.
Opportunities are presenting themselves, opportunities to get involved, to defy and resist the bigotry and misogyny that have been uncovered among our people. Benevolent forces that favor the brokenhearted, that defend the oppressed and the underserved are rearing up. We get to open our eyes and take stock of our communities, our neighborhoods, our homes. Light has shined and while it has not provided a flattering view, we now know. We now know the racism – not just in them, but in us. We now know the fear and the systems that hold people down, we now know the sexism and misogyny. We now know that eight billionaires are as rich as the world’s poorest half. We now know many are not safe in our churches. And we now know that a good lot of our Christians care more for “family values” than for the least of these.
The light has shined, we are no longer shocked by information, we now get to do the good work – caring for our brothers and sisters. We get to do the good work of defense and protest and calling our government representatives and fighting for equal rights. We have a job, a purpose. And this is where the hope comes. We offer what we have, and it matters not what that is. What matters is we use it. What matters is we shine our light, not solely on the garbage, but on the healing.
The incline increases and takes its toll. I’m tired. It’s as if someone grabs my rear wheel and pulls backward with all their might, but I dig in. I will get to the top. I resist the temptation to stop. I know what I have to do. I pump and turn over the pedals, right, left, right, left, I stand, I sit, I take it down a gear, right, left, stand, sit, shift. I repeat my mantra, I put my head down and even out my breath. I will not give in until I crest. There is no easy way to climb these hills, they just have to get climbed. The work we do, the tedious, exhausting work will reap rewards. We will find our stride in this new administration. We will recover our hope. We will find our resistance and in turn we will rekindle our joy-filled purpose.
My friends, thank you for accompanying me on this journey. Be the light your world needs. Build your community, contribute to justice, smile at strangers, flirt with old people, take a nap, vote, call, make a meal for your family, watch a funny movie, protest, sing, clean your house, read, have a beer with friends, knit. We are in this for the long haul, let’s settle in.
*We are all capable of activism, but some of us prefer to be quiet about it. This is a wonderful resource from the Craftivist Collective, entitled “Activism needs Introverts”. Have a watch.