“Grief and resilience live together.”
— Michelle Obama, Becoming
I am shaken to the core of my physical, intellectual, and emotional being by the events in Washington DC this week. The assault on the United States Capitol – encouraged by the leader of our democracy – added to the multiple heart quakes of this past year – have left me feeling anxious, bereft, and challenged to find my usual optimism. Yet find it I must, because finding solutions to the challenges that I face, you face, we face, our communities face, and our nation faces requires the clear thinking, hope, and compassion that underscore functional optimism.
In the light of the harrowing events of this week, the images, sounds, and personal narratives, how do we move forward? How do we use this information, these sensations to help us construct bridges that can span the gaps in perception, justice, equity, opportunity, and philosophy. The divides are clear, the blueprint for connections less so. Never has the need to be able to differ with respect been more crucial. To differ is a part of being human; to respect despite differences is aspirational.
I feel fortunate to be a part of a community – the Tahoma Unitarian Universalist Congregation – that works to live the values described by our Purposes and Principles. I believe that I have a responsibility to help create a more just, equitable and compassionate world, starting with my own words and actions. Will we always agree on how to do this? No. Is this easy? No. Will we take actions that may feel risky? Yes. Will we make mistakes? Yes. Will we learn from our mistakes and move forward? Yes.
My mom, who was not much of an optimist, would tell me this when I was feeling discouraged: Now I know why the birds can sing on the darkest day – they believe in Spring. Turns out this is a paraphrase of a line in a poem by Douglas Malloch, a lumberman from Muskegon, MI. Who knows how my mom integrated it into her lexicon but I’m glad she did. It has provided a flashlight to help me see beyond disappointment and grief to hope, to find the resilience I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other in darkness.
We have the opportunity and a responsibility to live our shared values both within and beyond our walls. We have the opportunity and a responsibility to support each other as we work toward a beloved community both within and beyond our walls. We have the opportunity and a responsibility to work toward positive change both within and beyond our walls. I look forward to doing this work together.
President, TUUC Board of Trustees