My heart is with you so much today. In times of trouble I want to be at home with you, and the distance between us feels very long right now. Whatever your political views, I know there was plenty that happened over the past 24 hours* to discourage you. I am aching for the hugs and conversation we’ll share when I’m back.
Did you ever hear this from Mister Rogers?: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” I’ve observed (maybe Fred Rogers did too) that if we really want to transform our fear into hope, what works wonders is to become the helpers. That’s why our life as a congregation is so important.
We at UUCPA have been forming relationships with Muslim communities in our neighborhood. We will ask these vulnerable communities what we can do for them, and do it. We have been striving to be a sanctuary for people of all genders, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities, immigration statuses, and religious backgrounds. At a time when our country needs those kinds of sanctuaries more than ever, we will offer the welcome that this country is meant to offer to everyone. We won’t do it perfectly, but we will be among the helpers.
We’ll have to be gentle with each other. This has been a harsh election, and when our feelings are raw, we seek someone to blame. Let’s promise each other: there is no one beneath our notice or excluded from the circle of dignity and worth, no matter who they voted for or what they believe, and no matter how afraid, hurt, or angry we are. Just being there for each other is another way to be among the helpers.
Friends have been joking (or maybe not joking) about how California should secede from the rest of the country. But we are one country, one world, bound as closely to those on the other side of the planet as to those across the street. There is no elsewhere to run to. Like many peo- ple, I spend too much time in an echo chamber, and for me this election chides us to practice dialogue instead: in other words, truly to listen
to people with whom we disagree. Not in order to change each other’s minds — maybe that will happen, and maybe it won’t–but in the faith that if we approach one another with curiosity and openness, it can only be an improvement. As a politician has been telling us recently, we really are stronger together.
I’ll be back in Palo Alto on January 2, and spending as much time as possible hearing how you have been feeling and what you need. I’ll have hugs and tea for you in my office. And then together, bit by bit, we’ll build a promised land that can be.
With love and blessings, Amy
*Amy’s copy originated shortly after the election results were reported — editor.