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Today we weep, tomorrow we...
As a very bright and faithful friend, Dani Forbess, wrote on Facebook, “The road forward is only as big and wide as the narrative we are able to make for it.”
What sort of narrative would you like to create?
As a religious leader I am suppose to have answers, but I have none. Instead I only have an invitation. GATHER with your PEOPLE at Grace on this Sunday, November 13th at 5:00. More Information
Why would you gather with a religious community, especially if you are non-religious, or better yet terrified of religion? Well, because first most of us are too, but second and more importantly, we all need one another. We need a safe place to begin to talk, think, and answer “What now?”
We need a place where together as community we can begin to address the following:
If you can’t come, please do all and any of the following:
I leave you with this word: ARISE.
From the depths of despair, I hear The voice calling...
Arise and love.
Stay present and love.
Stay angry and love.
Seek peace and love.
We have seen fear control and distort good people.
I hear The voice saying,
"Do not be afraid."
Only love can trump hate.
Only love can conquer fear.
Do not be afraid
-Mary Jane Eaton.
This is a picture of my daughter Lydia and her pantsuit wearing feminist mother on our way to vote for Hillary Clinton. .
I wrote the following blog yesterday. It was ready to publish first thing this morning. I so yearned for this moment that I could feel my daughter's warm body in my arms, her earnest eyes looking at me, as I told her a woman was now our president. Now I must tell my daughter that sometimes a bully wins, and that when a male bully faces a woman in America he will win. I must prepare her for a deeply misogynistic culture.
And yes this is what it comes down to for me. Misogyny. The dislike of, contempt for, the ingrained prejudice against women. What other explanation is there? How else would an ill prepared, angry narcissist win the presidency against one of the most qualified, intelligent candidates in American history? I think the answer is simple: America is still a deeply misogynistic culture.
May this hopeful, premature blog be a lament. May it be a remind us of who we should be. May it propel us to continue the struggle:
This moment will forever mark our nation. Many powerful essays will claim this day in American history. But I only have one simple story to share, one simple name: Lydia.
Lydia is my seven year old daughter. She has come to political consciousness under a black president. This summer she watched her first political convention and saw two women own the podium: Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. This fall she watched snippets of the presidential debates and shouted with glee as Hillary Clinton gracefully and intelligently stood up to a bully. Over these past few months she has also been flexing her muscles and proclaiming, “I’m a strong woman!” We didn’t teach her to do this.
I have waited for this moment since I was 17 when I understood for the first time that my gender limited my opportunities. I have ached for more women in powerful positions since I began a profession dominated by men.
My daughter hasn’t waited, ached, or yearned for this historical moment. Instead, she will simply wake this morning and embrace this moment. Her sleepy pajamed body and blonde bedhead will shuffle down the stairs. As she curls into my lap, I will tell her that Hillary Clinton, a woman, has been elected president. I will tell her to seal this moment forever in her memory. I will tell her of all the women who struggled tirelessly for this day to happen. And I will remind her that all day long--and for the rest of her life--she should continue to flex her arms and declare, “I’m a strong woman!”
For this day I am deeply grateful.
Recently, I came across this blog from November 2013. It still speaks to my heart on this All Saints Day as I give thanks for my Baba.
The Christian holy-day All Saints is really a pre-Christian (pagan) holiday reclaimed. Shocking! Say it isn’t true! The truth is most pre-Christian holidays morphed into reclaimed Christian holy-days. My favorite is All Saints. Traditionally pagans celebrated a day called Samhain, what we typically call “All Hollows Eve” or Halloween. Samhain was the beginning of the New Year; on the eve of the coming year it was believed that the veil between life and death, this life and the next, was thin.
I have some Pagan friends.* I love them. Their traditions inform and challenge mine. Recently during Samhain I asked them to listen for my Baba. Yes, an ordained minister asked her “witch” friends to keep an eye out for my former babysitter Dorthy Sponholz who I lovingly called Baba.
And then without any trouble I led an All Saints Day Christian gathering and preached about my pagan friends’ very real connections to the dead. It was a beautiful gathering during which we honestly laid our thanksgiving filled grief before one another in community. Again: Shocking! Pagan and Christian practices mingle. Call the Orthodox Police!
I would like to think we have come a long way from the days when “Christians” use to burn their pagan neighbors at the stake.
Too often people believe that saints are some or all of the following: famous, martyred, miracle performers, extremely pious to the point of weird, dressed in long robes and huge crosses. Wrong. Saints are the very real and ordinary people in our lives who simply loved us to God and then died. Some saints are famous. But most are not. My beloved Saint Baba was not an extraordinary person. In fact, she was simple. But her simple love transformed me.
Saints are no different from the spirits Pagans connect with on Samhain. They are the dead who are inexplicably with us. How we understand this “with us” is debatable, but who cares! This All Saints Day my dear friends helped me understand that I did not need them to connect me with my beloved Baba. Instead, I was already connected to her. I have always been in communication with Baba through what I call prayer since her death 25 years ago. I just didn’t know it because my Christian forbearers were trying to hide their pagan roots. My religious leaders didn’t let me know how close the living and the dead mingle, probably because they had no idea themselves.
In remembrance of All Saints Day, in thanksgiving for my dear pagan friends, and in celebration of the many ordinary saints and their transformative love I would like to tell you my favorite Baba story.
One morning my mother dropped me off early to Baba’s house; she had a meeting. Baba fed me breakfast at her Formica kitchen table and then it was time to catch the bus. It was pouring. I put on my rain jacket, but even my hood could not keep the rain from pouring down my neck. Instead of waiting at the edge of Baba’s driveway, I ran back to Baba’s porch. When the bus came it did not see me and passed by, leaving me with no ride to school. Drenched, I walked back into Baba’s house, afraid she might be angry. I confessed I had missed the bus.
I now know this was one of my best mistakes for it turned into a great adventure. Baba didn’t want to wake her husband Carl. She decided she would drive me to school.
Baba hadn’t driven in 15 years. Her husband Carl did all the driving in their old brown station wagon. I was a bit scared when Baba put on her coat and boots and tied a plastic bag around her recently set short curls. We hurried to the safety of the brown wagon and Baba started her up. I sat beside her in the front seat, watching the road intently, certain Baba needed my pair of eyes. The wipers could not keep up with the deluge of water. Baba and I were silent for a moment as she pulled out and started down the road, the squeak of the wipers the only sound in the deafening rainfall. And then Baba laughed. I don’t know the last time I’ve drove! The car feels so heavy. Was that a bad thing I asked?No, no. I just don’t remember it being so heavy. And then she laughed some more.
On the rest of that adventuresome ride to my elementary school, I was aware that I was the only person Baba would drive for. I was the one Baba loved best. The love present in that rainy morning 29 years ago sustains me today.
Remember your ordinary saint and bask in their love this day.
Rev. Abigail A Henrich (ehm!) is an ordained minister who earned her stripes at Princeton Theological Seminary and Colgate University. That said, Abby is really a mother-pastor-spouse who lives in a kinetic state of chaos as she moves from her many vocations: folding laundry, preaching, returning phone calls, sorting lunch boxes, answering e-mails, and occasionally thinking deep thoughts in the shower. Unabashedly she is a progressive Christian who believes some shaking up has got to happen in the church.