A Letter to Our Near-Future Selves

Dearly Loved Community, Near and Far,

As I write on this late October evening, the stress of all the uncertainties of these past months and years has reached a new level of intensity. The November 3 elections are very close; the pandemic and other natural disasters continue to keep us reeling. Even after the elections, we will almost certainly still be swimming in uncertainty.

Brave ones, we have been living with fear, loss, anger, and worry for a long time. It makes sense that some of us are exhausted. Some of us are extending ourselves beyond what our bodies can take to keep on organizing for the good of our communities and preparing for every eventuality. Some of us are overwhelmed and not sure what to do. Some of us are doing everything we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy in mind, body, heart, and spirit. Some of us are struggling with serious illnesses that take up the whole screen of our consciousness.

Most of us are feeling at least a little of some or all of these things.

It’s a lot.

So, dear ones, you know what I’ll ask next:

Please pause for a moment. Shift your focus to this moment, to what you’re seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling right now …

And breathe with me …

and again …

and again …

Just before the U.S. Civil War of 1861-1865, in that time of tremendous uncertainty, our radical religious ancestor Theodore Parker writes these famous words. He’s expressing his faith that the abolition of slavery (and other social reforms for which he is fighting) will ultimately succeed:

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

Beloveds, my eye reaches but little ways, too, and I’m not so sure that the arc of the moral universe will bend toward justice all on its own. I’m pretty sure, instead, that we have to latch onto that arc and tug with all our might if we want justice, equity, and compassion for everyone to become the guiding principles of this country and this world.

I do feel certain about this, though: No matter what happens in the days, weeks, months, and years to come, we in this community will never stop working to create the just and loving world we believe in. We each will have our different roles:

  • Some of us will be out in the streets, offering a nonviolent de-escalating presence and demanding safety and dignity for all.
  • Some of us will be making phone calls, writing letters, and meeting with community members and local leaders to build power, protect the rights of the vulnerable, and create new and more inclusive social systems.
  • Some of us will be at home, cooking the food, making the calls, and writing the cards that encourage and check in on community members who are on the front lines.
  • Some of us will be keeping our families intact and supporting our other families with empathy and encouragement.
  • Some of us will be showing our children how to be brave, find hope, and make a difference.
  • Some of us will be creating art, music, stories, and online gatherings that lift our spirits and show us what humans can be at our best.
  • And so much more!

And no matter what happens, my darlings, I know that we will continue to show up. We will figure out together what is ours to do. We will help each other build our resilience, increase our stamina, and remember, always, that love, joy, and beauty abide. We will celebrate, and grieve, and grow. We will Make Love Visible with all our hearts.

Here’s what I know for certain: It matters who we are, what we do, and how we live. And it matters that we are together.

With all my love and gratitude,

Rev. Nancy