Photo: An oldie, but a goodie, and apt for this post.
My church has a very robust Climate Change ministry that is lovely and effective. Posters hang during coffee hour after service, this spring we had a service dedicated to the cause, speakers have come in specifically to preach on the issue and so on and so forth… I’ve been approached by a few members of the group about joining the cause and I have, as best I can, very respectfully declined. I care about climate change a lot. I just haven’t chosen it as the fire I want to put out. I respect that it’s the fire chosen by others, but it’s simply not my fire.
It’s been a week of fires, hasn’t it? So many fires. They all seem to burn hot and bright, they spread and they dance and we simply can’t stop watching. Just when you think that one of the fires seems to be under control (never out, though, because that’s just not how it seems to work), another one crops up and someone starts up a fresh howl. My friends howled in anguish over the ban of transgendered military members. Other friends howled over the ACA Repeal. Yet others howl about voter data collection. More over reproductive rights. So many fires. Everyone is asking for water. Everyone is asking for someone to lend a hand. I noticed that across my favorite corners of the internet, in the height of the arguments among friends and allies, there was a tension, a misplaced anger: why aren’t you helping me put out my fire? Don’t you know how hot it’s burning? The least you can do is give me some water!
There is a hell of a lot at stake. It feels like everything is under attack in some sort of way. People are taking up the fight, not shying away from showing their passions for the things they love. They are locking arms with those would do the same and that’s actually a beautiful thing. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. But… my Quiet Thoughts are about the sustainability of it all. I can’t keep running around with my water bucket, pouring single droplets here and there, allowing myself to be dragged from the fires I’ve chosen so as to put out a fire that my friend is battling. It is unwise to chase the flames. We have to be better about how we spend our energy.
In this challenging landscape, I have divided my political attentions into three main buckets: Plant My Feet, Lend a Hand, and Spread the Word. I believe that the best use of my individual talents is to stay informed, but also to stay focused. In other words, I’m choosing the fires that I’m going to actively work to put out, there are other fires that I will lend a hand to when called upon to do so, and I always keep a watchful eye on the fires burning in the distance and share the events of their burning when necessary. Most of all, I respect that not everyone will choose to help me with the fires that I think matter most. I appreciate when they do and I try to reciprocate when help is provided.
I write this because, Lord, focus is so key right now. Focus is a skill. Focus may even be survival. The more we focus, cutting out the noise that our opposition puts out to distract us, and actively choosing to only attend to certain matters, the better we can be for putting up an effective defense for the good of us all and the things we hold dear. We can, maybe, put out a few of these fires.
If you haven’t already, plant your feet in front of one fire, Dear Reader. Maybe, if you’ve got the bandwidth, two. Please actively choose and then choose to be active. Please choose wisely and then be wise about your choices. Then be consistent and persistent. Commit and recommit, especially when it feels like the flames will never die down. Remember it’s not really just your fire. You fight alongside others. You fight so others can be busy fighting another fire.
And then respect that not everyone is going to choose your fire. Some may. Lock arms with those people. But those who don’t, let them be… respect their fires. It’s the respect and the partnership that will see us through to the other side of this.
I am grateful to you, Dear Reader. This is a world that is mean, often unforgiving, and yet you are still here and you work hard on behalf of your little corner of the world. Time is precious and irreplaceable, and I honor the gift of your spending a little bit of it on me and this little blog. I hope that you’ll share with me a little about the fire you’ve chosen. I’ve written a bit about the causes I choose to champion, and will continue to write about them. Basically, I commit to educating the babies, keeping them warm with full bellies, and sustaining safe places for them to play and grow and learn. What is your cause, Dear Reader? How can I be helpful to it? Share. I sincerely want to know.
It is a still night in Massachusetts. Not a lot of air, not a lot of stars. It’s as if the universe knows that we’re all suffering from a touch of whiplash and need a break from stimulation. The bugs don’t seem to be singing, the creatures of the night seem to be staying out of the grass… it’s a night for stillness. It’s a night to breathe and recuperate. It’s a night that knows there will be other battles ahead, so it has bestowed the gift of calm upon us all.
On a night like this, I wish you rest. I wish you sleep that is deep and dark and even dreamless. I wish you a fully immersive sort of sleep, the kind that pulls you deep down and doesn’t let go for a very, very long time. May you wake up from it refreshed. May it heal your aches and pains and give you the spring that you need to move forward. I wish you a hearty breakfast in the morning: unrushed and more than enough. Big fluffy pancakes or satisfying french toast or an omelette stuffed with savory goodness . They are indulgences, sure, but they are really to illustrate a point: we need you, Dear Reader, and you need to take care of yourself. Fuel up and stay full for the trials ahead. I wish you words that sustain: quotes that inspire, poetry that lights up the soul, the words of encouragement from a loved one or the words of gratitude from a stranger. May that be with you and give you strength all weekend, Dear Reader. I wish you the all-consuming warmth of the touch of a loved one, the kiss of a friendly breeze on these hot summer days, and a wave of satisfaction from performing an act of good for someone. Big or small, Dear Reader, good acts beget good acts. I wish you a good story, a kiss on the cheek, and the piercing understanding that you have purpose in this world and your actions have impact. What you do matters. You make the world a little better every single day. When people watch you fight your fires, they draw strength and inspiration so that they can do the same. Keep it up, Dear Reader. You are amazing.
Until Monday, stay connected, get some rest, eat well, sleep better, smile, tell a story, dance, laugh loudly, reach out, speak up and take care.