Summer has arrived, and I’ve been thinking of you, especially during this long, difficult week in the life of our nation. I want you to know that you are on my heart, and that I am thankful for the work you are doing every day to bring justice and joy to this nation and to the world.
As many of you know, Chris and I have just recently landed in our new hometown, so we’re still finding our way into the communities that will hold our dreams for a just world, and that will help us work to bring that world about.
So…I’ve been thinking a lot about hope, and about what kinds of communities help us to sustain it. I should say that by hope, I do not mean a feeling of hopefulness. That feeling may come and go, and waiting for it to arrive is a luxury we cannot afford. Rather, I believe that hope is a spiritual practice — an embodied discipline by which we act on our conviction that radical justice is our call and our responsibility, even (and especially) on days when we might be feeling hopeless. Here are a few thoughts on the discipline of embodied hope, and the practices that make it possible…
Connecting to that which is larger than ourselves. This won’t surprise you, but I believe that the work of justice requires spiritual practice: daily, embodied action that connects and aligns us with the Holy, the Divine Presence, Spirit, the Universe…any word that helps us to name an intelligence that is more than human, that offers guidance from a higher perspective than our own, and that always calls us to the work of radical healing and justice in the world. The events of this past week are a stark reminder that the arc of history takes the long road on its bend toward justice, and that we cannot trust those in power to act justly on behalf of the most vulnerable. So I encourage you to find a spiritual practice that helps you to listen daily for guidance…about where you can make your own best contribution to the work of justice and about how you will sustain that work over the long haul. (If you need help to find the kind of spiritual practice that will work best for you, please feel free to reach out.)
Taking and supporting direct political action and policy change. Climate justice. Racial justice. Economic justice. Reproductive justice. Friends, thoughts and prayers alone are not going to get us there. We must take direct and continued political action anywhere we can. For starters, we can take to the streets, register new voters, and contribute as much as we are able to whatever work of justice most calls to our own souls (see above). There are lots of ways to do this. In light of last week’s SCOTUS decision, I offer these two for your consideration:
Committing to beauty, abundance, healing, and joy…Every. Single.Day. This is radical practice, friends. And it’s crucial. Why? Here the best reasons I can think of for not neglecting the practice of beauty and joy:
1. Our souls need nourishment for the long and sometimes mucky path to real social change. We simply cannot sustain the work of political action, radical healing, and policy change if we are neglecting to nourish ourselves with beauty and joy. Period. Burnout is not an option, friends. We need you. We need you to bring your whole self and your creative joy to the work at hand. So I implore you to immerse yourself in the particular sources of beauty and nourishment that are offering, always, to fill and carry you into the world on streams of justice and joy.
2. As we say “Yes!” to the call of joy in our lives, we actually begin to embody and create a world that is worth fighting for. When we follow the unique call of joy in our own lives, we create, right here and now, a world that embodies (in the words of Barbara Kingsolver) “…elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed.”
Friends, your deep joy will lead you to embody and build this world. I know this because I see your work, and I am cheering you on as you…
-break up concrete for a community garden
-write your poems
-create safe classrooms
-farm in ways that are sustaining and regenerative for the earth
-raise children who are courageous, creative, and kind
-feed and house the most vulnerable among us
-preserve vulnerable landscapes
-rescue animals wild and tame
This list goes on and on. And for this…for the gifts that you bring to the world every day…I am so grateful.
Yours in radical hope,