This morning as I write this, my brand new Macbook Air had restarted itself in the middle of the night and it demanded my password instead of letting me use touch ID. Evidently between receiving this computer last Tuesday and this morning, I completely forgot what I’d set for the admin password on my computer. I also haven’t owned a Macbook in years, like years and years, and I had no memory of where the power button should be to put it into restart mode (hint: it’s the touch id key!). I was trying to log on for a zoom get-together with writing friends for a few minutes.
And while I knew that there had to be a way to fix it, I couldn’t figure it out and I burst out sobbing, thinking things like, now I’m stuck with a computer that won’t be paid for until next year and it doesn’t even work, or I’m going to have to send it back and deal with my old chrome book for a while that likes to randomly disconnect wireless and bluetooth now, making zoom calls very frustrating. And while all my frustration seemed to be pointed at this computer, I realized it was more. I’ve been trying to stay calm, trying to look at the numbers and have a little hope, and yet I’m basically a ball of anxiety as the countdown clock in my head clicks down one more day every morning I open my eyes.
There’s a big weight on my chest: like an elephant sitting there, and yes, I might intend that as a pun. I told my husband earlier I wanted to sleep til November 4th or disconnect all social media, neither of which are viable options to someone with small kids who want to do something for Halloween in a pandemic: something that will require much more work on the part of the parents than trick-or-treating would. And as a community organizer that uses Facebook as a primary tool, I can’t get off social media for a week or more either. These last few days there’s much important information to help disseminate.
And then there’s the simple reality that we really are better together, and disconnection doesn’t really help me or anyone else. We have carried each other through so much these past four years, and earlier too, as the injustices that have been so flagrantly demonstrated with this administration were not invented by it, just exploited to new degrees for our lifetimes.
In her book Emergent Strategy, adrienne marie brown talks about watching the World Cup match between Germany and Brazil. Germany won because Brazil was disoriented by the loss of two key players. Brown notes that Germany didn’t seem to have irreplaceable key players, rather, they had many interchangeable ones. Whenever the opposing team got the ball, the German players swooped in on them. “It didn’t feel like a formation, it felt like an interdependent murmuration towards a shared intention—they flew towards the ball. The sheer number of team members attending to the ball at any given point meant that Germany was consistently creating more possibilities for itself to have the ball, to have choice over what happened next, to get the chance to score” (p. 129). I have witnessed first-hand the effects of this decentralized emergent strategy taking place. I also think we need to be even more intentional about it in the days to come.
I’ve likened it to flying in a v-formation, with different people taking point, but I think Brown’s example of a murmuration is even more profound. It might seem that four people on the ball is unneccessary duplication but it creates more opportunities to get the ball and advance the strategy. It also lets people drop out for rest without disrupting the forward movement.
And these things are important to think about no matter what the result is on Tuesday or whenever we get the final tally. Because the poison in the system that the current administration exploited was just that: in the system. And it’s going to take a lot more work to extract it and work towards a society of equity and justice. It will take a firm commitment to the principles of abundance: realizing that there is no scarcity, there’s enough for us all.
And it’s not going to be easy, but I was encouraged today by this quote from Dragons in the Water, on of my favorite L’Engle books:
And that seems a lot more manageable. Just one battle at a time. Each time we do that, we swing the tide. Sometimes it’s little battles, and tiny steps or progress. But as I wrote in my last Medium piece:
And so we must rise up even more, and this time we must ensure that no one is left out or told to wait their turn. While progress comes in increments, our vision doesn’t have to. We must decide today that our endurance for oppression of anyone — not just ourselves — has come to an end. We commit ourselves anew to the struggle for everyone to be able to thrive knowing that our goal is a noble one — and also realizing that our goal will not be achieved within our lifetime. We can make progress towards that goal before passing on our own torches to the next generation. We do our best to advance the cause of justice in our own time in history, standing on the foundation that others have built for us, we leave more building blocks so that the next generation stands that much higher as they build on.
And finally, I leave you with this beautiful poem underlying our connection to the planet:
Join the community:
In a time of great upheaval, we often hear the sentiment of longing for things to “go back to normal.” But if we look around at our world, “normal” was never really good enough for most people. Injustice, oppression, scarcity mentalities, and hatred abound in our world. Our current political and societal realities leave our heads spinning and our bodies exhausted. We want a place to belong: for us, our families, and our neighbors both near and far. We are longing for justice and equity we have never known. The restoration we crave lies not behind us, but before us. Come with me on a four-week Advent journey (Nov 29, Dec 6, Dec 13, & Dec 20) where we will look through Scripture and our current realities, and together imagine a place where we all belong.
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Two weeks ago I started the Movement Chaplaincy Class from Faith Matters Network via the School of Global Citizenry. I highly recommend it for the next round for any of you who are interested in learning more about spiritual accompaniment in movement spaces.
What I’m Reading this Week
The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien SJ
My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem
Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown
Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism, and Mothering by Rosemarie Freeney Harding with Rachel Elizabeth Harding
Nonviolence and Social Movements by Rev. James M. Lawson Jr.