Photo: A friend of mine came over this morning with three bottles of (really good) wine and this bouquet of flowers. “I am just in so much grief,” she said to me. “but I have been thinking of you.” I’m grateful beyond words for the kindness, and for the pop of color in my home. In in-laws are here and will be here until Sunday. The “liquid grace” will help make that a bit easier, and these flowers will be a lovely visible reminder that this, too, shall pass.
I didn’t write on Wednesday because I was baking bread. I was exhausted, I was grieving, I was terrified, but I’d made a promise, so I did it. A loaf of oatmeal molasses bread was baked and didn’t actually come out of my oven until 10pm. I set it to cool while I slept on the couch for about 45 minutes, then I wrapped it up and put myself to bed. My husband asked me why I was baking it, who was it for?
Thanksgiving. Not for the outcome of the election, but simply because the sun had risen. I placed that loaf and a small prayer on my church alter. I recognize that I had no control over Tuesday’s outcome , but I have control over how I deal with the news.
My grief took on many forms on Tuesday night and into Wednesday. Pure and simple terror kept me from sleeping. Anguish and disbelief made me snippy in the morning, downright depressed in the afternoon. Other people’s sorrow seeped in as I went through my day. I ended up being Oprah for many on Wednesday: giving people hugs, rubbing their backs and holding their hands, telling them to take things slowly, to let the panic subside and replace it with action. It was hard to take my own advice. There were moments when I had it together, others when the cold grip of unshackled fear would break loose and cause me to physically shake. I kept dropping my keys, dropped my coffee on my lawn, could not get proper footing on the sidewalk while running an errand. I joined the chorus of fright on Facebook, expressing my concerns and calling people to action, but then buried myself in life and what needed to be done instead of being the person I was telling everyone else to be. I prayed, then I baked bread as I promised I would.
Clarity came to me on Thursday morning, having emerged from the shock. As I thought about the darkness to come, watching the Republicans systematically dismantle my president’s legacy, my brain went to fundraising and giving to the watchdog organizations who have the infrastructure to put up a decent fight. But that got me thinking about the smaller organizations that are going to be left behind as we all decide to retreat to our partisan corners and throw money at our favorite big-picture nonprofits. The local food banks, the small but potent charities and service groups, the real community-based organizations that do real work for local people are going to be left behind if we don’t champion them over the next four years. The new economy is already showing that it’s going to be all about nourishing the already rich and it’s absolutely going to leave behind the poor. I can’t save every person, I can’t take up every mantle, but I decided that I do have the power to take thoughtful and meaningful actions in the following ways:
I’ve decided to be a “patron” of two local organizations that I love. The first is First Teacher, a nonprofit parent education and advocacy group in Boston that provides families with support groups to help their children gain important pre-literacy skills as early as infancy, greatly improving their chance to succeed in school and in adult life. It is founded by a good friend of mine, it is proven to be successful, and every new family who walks through their doors is given a brand new book for their kids. I’ve decided to champion their cause, speak about them with my local friends, and donate to them regularly (2-3 times a year) and as significantly as I am able. The second is the Discovery Museums, a beautiful children’s science museum in a local MetroWest town that serves the children of the region with in-school science and engineering projects, free Friday programs, special days for children on the spectrum to enjoy the facilities in accessible ways, and generous discounts for families who cannot afford their admission fees.
I really encourage you to take similar actions, Dear Reader. If you have the means to give, I urge you to choose one or two local organizations in your community to champion over the next 4 years. Become their patron through regular donations as well as advocacy on their behalf. Nourish them with meaningful gifts from your own coffers, but also through pulling your friends in as well. The little guys need you, Dear Reader. Give if you can. Donate your time if you can’t donate your treasure. By reaching out right now, you are strengthening yourself.
I will not pretend to tell you that I’m ok and that everything else will be ok. I would not lie to you like that, Dear Reader. However, in my uncertainty and despair, I’ve decided that I will not crumble, nor will I hide. I’m going to use this as an opportunity to exhibit some grace, to find ways to sustainably practice my faith to the benefit of others, and to step up and take a more leadership role in these communities that I belong to. In other words, it’s time to be a damn adult.
It is night, Dear Reader. The night is for stillness. It is ok to be still right now, Dear Reader, and to process everything that has happened. When you are ready to emerge and start moving again, please do so thoughtfully, understanding that the world needs you now more than ever. We need your brain, we need your good health, we need your strong hands, we need your clear voice. Without you, the fight for change and growth will have little resonance or urgency. How you see the world and what you bring to it matters.
Therefore, I wish you peace this Friday, Dear Reader. Let it fill you up and calm you down. Let it illuminate the way forward for all of us.
Until Monday, stay safe and take care.