Friends, this was supposed to be a post rating last month’s Escapist Book Club book, Leviathan, which I planned to have to you 5 days ago and is now, sadly, overdue.
Also, this was supposed to be a post introducing our November Escapist Book Club book, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which I planned to have to you 4 days ago and is officially overdue, as well.
Also-also, I just realized I never named the winners of the August giveaway of several St. Jude (Patron Saint of Chaos and Impossible Causes) charms, which are still in my wallet. On the bright side, I told you I’d give them away eventually, so I anticipated my own failure to finish things in a reasonable timeframe, and this one is not, therefore, technically overdue. #WINNING
Speaking of Chaos and Impossible Causes, I need to do all these things plus 467 more, but I’ve decided to be gentle with myself, instead, because these are Strange Times we’re living in. Strange Times full of verbal civil war here in the U.S., and in our churches and families, as we fight for Who’s In and Who’s Out, Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong, who deserves a place at the table and what the definition of “place” and “table” are, anyway.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric. It’s easy to turn to defending my positions which are the Right Positions, and Well Thought Out, and are, obviously, the positions that Love and Defend People Best. It’s easy to be cocky and believe the articles and pundits and theologians who support what I already believed. Self-congratulation and confirmation of my own brilliance are very sweet, after all.
Please understand I’m not suggesting there aren’t things worth fighting for or people in desperate need of defending. We will, with our words and our actions and our votes and our hearts, determine the course of the future together. The future I want for my children and the children of my momrades around the globe is crystal clear; physical safety, freedom of thought, freedom of religion, education, food, shelter, clothes, equality, an end to discrimination, and doors wide open to the marginalized and disenfranchised to give them sanctuary and succor; a table defined as the Whole Planet and a place at that table overflowing with bounty for every single one. I will absolutely continue to champion these ends with all the tools at my disposal.
I’m also working hard to keep my ears and eyes wide open, and my hands cupped loosely to receive communion — the breaking of bread and sharing of wine with the people of grace and of grime, who are all of us, in remembrance of sacrifice and redemption and the fact that we don’t do this work alone. I’m working hard to keep ears and eyes and heart as wide open as the door that leads to my table where I maintain there’s always — always — room for one more, like the wardrobe that leads to Narnia or Mary Poppins’ carpet bag, which, though they appear to be finite, have magical room and infinite space inside.
I’m working hard to listen to the arguments and the underlying pain and the deep-seated fears of those with whom I disagree, and I am striving to understand the convictions of my friends who think differently than me. This is the Hardest Work I’m doing these days — this listening to understand rather than listening to defend — this choice to be kind — because my base nature, of course, would rather Defend My Territory than hold it humbly and gently. I am fierce, you see; it’s in my nature. I am fierce and determined and articulate and stubborn. I have a strong sense of What’s Right and What’s Wrong, and I long for Justice and Mercy in equal measure, and for Love Incarnate to be made known to all people. Unfortunately, I can also be Wrong or Misunderstand or Only Have Part of Someone’s Story, which has been one of the more tragic lessons of adulthood. A real bummer, I tell you, but a lesson I’m trying to absorb, that I don’t know everything and must become a lifelong learner and a friend, rather than one who charges in with accusations and diatribes.
So here’s what we’re going to do to prepare for this Election Day, those of us who are uneasy with our Facebook feeds and who hope for a better conversation to begin in our nation, in our world, in our churches, in our families, and in the secret places of our hearts.
First, we are going to make a giant vat of chicken soup. We need healing, friends, and chicken soup, in every culture, is the beginning. You can add noodles. You can pop open a can of Campbell’s. You can throw in rice and ginger and garlic and salt. You can use a spoon or slurp it straight from the bowl. If you’re vegan, you can substitute veggie stock, but I’m telling you, we’re all having soup at the table. Soup all around to fortify us and soothe us and remind us we seek health and restoration one to another.
Then, after chicken soup, we are going to practice love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Then we pursue goodness.
That’s the order.
We will succeed. We will be so good at this, friends.
And then we will fail.
And then we will try again, on repeat, and succeed and fail because we are made out of human, and we are made in God’s own image — human and divine, magic and mess, grace and grime, mixed and mingled together.
Self-control will be the worst; I’m just saying this now so we all have clear expectations. I, for example, keep waking up to find piles of candy wrappers on my nightstand; my goal to eat zero Halloween candy isn’t going well. Also, I keep researching every Horrible Thing shared on Facebook about Hillary Clinton and finding the Snopes.com articles to refute them. <– This is not actually helpful, FYI, and it will Change No One’s Mind. It does, however, reinforce that I Think All the Very Best Things and also Am Right and also Am Doing Stuff to SAVE THE WORLD from CERTAIN DISASTER like Posting My Fab Thoughts on the Facebook. Which is to say, I assuage my fears, which are legion when I let them take the reins, and my anger by calling out the fact that the Other Side is Mired in Fear and Anger, and I ignore my own hypocrisy. It’s FUN, friends; everyone is doing it.
Still, self-control; I’m going to work on practicing it. And I will also practice being gentle with others and myself when we fail spectacularly at it. And I’ll work on being kind and good when I’d rather feed my fear. And at being patient with the fact these things will take, literally, forever + divine intervention.
Here is how we are going to prepare for Election Day:
We are going to make the soup.
We are going to eat the soup.
We are going to be the people of love.
We are going to be the people of joy.
We are going to be the people who work relentlessly for peace.
We are gong to be the people who champion our neighbors which begins by listening to them, which is horrible and difficult but still true.
We are going to be the people who will move through the next week bravely and boldly and compassionately, and our light will not be extinguished by alarmist, fearful rhetoric which seeks to steal our joy.
Sending love, friends,
P.S. Wishing us all the best.