Usually when I start a blog post I have a title, some idea of what I might write. Today I’m just starting in the white box, no title yet. I haven’t felt like writing in awhile, and even now I don’t totally trust my keystrokes.
Words have hurt lately.
While all of the election stuff swirls, all the other “stuff” of life just keeps on a goin’ in the background. So many of us, for so many reasons, had a rough week this last one. A friend from college, Becky Cooper-Thumann, wrote on her blog that she felt Facebook whiplash.
She also wrote about picking up a shovel and digging in, reminding me and others that getting to work is part of what we do after the fray of the election cycle. I agree. I just texted with a friend who’s into exercise and nutrition. She’s gonna help me get moving. I also volunteered to be a TeamMates mentor this week. I had been obstinate about saying no this opportunity, even though I have the time and felt called to it. So I’m using my sad and trying to churn it into butter somehow, hoping to connect with one of the kiddos in our school who could use an adult who cares. So I’m doing something, trying to pick up my shovel, I guess . . .
But I’m also a word girl, so I’m trying to put words on what this all means, trying to find gratitude, when I frankly feel disheartened.
In our word-rich, scroll through society it’s easy to forget that sometimes the wisest people don’t say much at all. So in this time in our history that feels topsy-turvy, I want to seek out the quiet ones, ask their advice and wisdom, and I want to get a little quieter myself.
The quietness helps us to choose hope even when it feels hard, even when it comes at our own expense. Throughout this election, so many of us have shown our strong desire to be right. The more I look and reflect on all of this, I think the only way we can get it “right” is in the collective. The answers are somehow spread out and among us. Community is the answer, with each of us bringing our unique gift to the table and thanking the others for bringing the part that we could not bring. That body was broken, and now we are its pieces.
We are a part of something bigger than ourselves.
And without each contribution, the picture is incomplete.
We need each other.
And not because we are right, but because we are all here, holy from the get-go.
We all come from something.
We all want something.
What if we are all, if we’re honest, a little scared?
What if we quit scrolling the world with a value judgement frame, what if we didn’t look at situations and other people asking if we should click the “like” button?
What if we really looked at each other, and did the hard work of saying thanks?
We need all of us in real conversations in real time face-to-face. Writing online is easy. The real stuff is messier, without a backspace button. We’ve just got to try our best in the moment and actually listen, and then breathe, and then try to kindly use the voice we’ve been given.
Recently I wanted to understand why someone in my community was doing something. After asking a friend–not the man in question–I was wisely reminded, “I don’t know, ask him.” So I did. I stopped in for a quick ten minutes on the way home from work, and just asked him. It was a little weird at first, but quickly the conversation became passionate and enlightening and real, and I got to see a person in my community with a new perspective and understand why he was doing this thing that was out of the ordinary. It was a real conversation with a real human in real time. The asking, instead of just knowing, felt holy.
I want to practice this “I don’t know, ask him,” mentality and spend less time assuming I know or talking to everyone except the actual person.
And I wonder even as I type this, if all of these sentences are just my new twisted way of wanting to be right, of wanting to somehow rise above the fray and have the last word.
But at the end of this week, I don’t know if anyone is having a victory march (except the KKK, which is terrible and disturbing, and I can’t even), but I feel like we’re all trying to figure out where we are and what this all means and how we can talk to one another better and if our voice still matters.
I want my voice to matter.
A teacher friend has a sign in her classroom that says, “I can practice being right, or I can practice being kind.”
I want my voice to help the kindness grow.
So this week I have a goal of saying thanks to other people a lot more. To notice. To slow down. To actually say the words and write the notes. Even when I don’t feel thankful, the act of mining for thanks puts things in perspective. It reminds me that I am not creating all of this. I am not in charge.
And today, I’m thankful for that.
I’m thankful that I am having a very human experience, even when it is hard and beautiful in whiplash fashion.
I’m thankful for this week that has given me a perspective that I didn’t have before.
I’m thankful for a good friend who just stopped by to say hi for no good reason.
I’m thankful for two deep conversations I had with important men in my life that would not have happened without this election.
I am thankful for the ones who came before, giving me the right to vote.
I am thankful this week for the veterans, and families of veterans, whose sacrifice I live into each day.
I am thankful for this little glint of sunshine that somehow warmed me up on my car ride today, for my daughter who sees my hurt. She grabbed my chin during church this morning and said, “Why aren’t you smiling? Chin up momma.”
I’m thankful for the elderly and kind woman in the pew in front of us who turned and really looked into my eyes as she said with fierceness, “Peace be with you.”
Yes, peace be with you.
And also with you.