I’m quite content being retired. Perhaps I should say semi-retired, as I still have my hand in ministry at Old Stone Church in downtown Cleveland and I am the Executive Director of God Before Guns. That said, it’s not like anyone was counting on my wisdom or words of comfort or creating safe space yesterday, as people would have been if I was still a senior pastor. I’m OK with that every day. But I was especially grateful for it yesterday, as I felt more powerless than wise, had precious little to say to anyone, and I wanted no one else in my personal safe space. David and I are comfortable together in silence, and there was alot of that. I cried with my daughter, the mother of our two grandsons, on the phone. It was enough to shower, get dressed, and had I not known about a neighborhood church openings its doors as safe space, I might not have left my house.
It feels like 9/11 all over again, I’ve seen people write. It does, except this time the enemy has come from within. It does, except I never really believed that our country was in daily mortal danger then, and yesterday I began thinking that we are. As a pastor during 9/11, I could with confidence, counsel people that things will be OK. Yesterday, those words haunted me because they seem not true anymore. We are not OK, and we won’t be for a long while. I was tempted yesterday in my paralysis to give it all up. My work as an activist in gun violence prevention, my progressive Christian ministry work — done, over. Everything I believe in had been voted down and everything I fear will be taking office in January. The vision for our country that is articulated by God Before Guns says: We envision a nation in which our faith in God and each other elevates the sanctity of life above the fears that lead to a society armed against itself. Yesterday, my gut said that vision died a premature death, and I would not be the one to work to resurrect it.I slept better last night.
I feel a little stronger this morning. I’m no less angry and I still wish I could wake up from this horrible nightmare. I’m working to find my own words, having found comfort in the words of so many other more talented (and expedient) writers. Any personal recovery seems fragile at best, best assuaged by staying in my comfortable and warm house, walking my dog in our autumn-splendored neighborhood, reading a novel, and cooking in my small but surprisingly productive kitchen. Bread is rising, cookies are in the oven, and soup is on the stove. I could stay here forever. As long as the shocked stock market doesn’t crash our retirement savings, we can survive this.
It’s just that’s not enough. I know it. I’ve preached it. I must continue to live it. I have my thick skin (a necessity for any woman pastor) to protect my own hurt feelings, insecurities, and vulnerabilities. I have a strong heart mended from heartbreaks through the years which I know will be healthier the more I use it to its capacity. I answered a call from God years ago, and there was not an expiration date.
So, today, I vow to (in no particular order):
continue my activism and advocacy in gun violence prevention. Children deserve safe streets, schools, homes — free from the violence that comes from unrestricted access to guns for which the 2nd Amendment was never intended.
practice, preach, teach, model with every step and breath a life of following Jesus, knowing that I”ll not be perfect at it, but knowing that too many others are making a dangerous mockery of being Christian so I must work harder at it.
advocate for the world in which I want my children and grandchildren to live, but not only for them, but for all children and other people’s grandchildren, no matter their color, ethnicity, country of origin, etc.
continue to be an ally for LGBTQ equality, supportive of women’s reproductive choices and respect, equal pay for equal work, a voice as a child of an immigrant for immigrant welcome and rights, ….. to love, serve and work for every category of person who has been demeaned, verbally and physically abused, and threatened by the bullies who will now lead our government and those who voted for them.
I refuse to live in fear. And I promise to do all within my power so others do not fear for their safety either.
I’ve got time and I’ve got some resources. I can do this, admittedly some days better than others, and so can you. It’s not like the world needs my particular skills any more than anyone else’s, but it’s very much like voting. Every. Single. One. Counts.
Join me in recovery?
Pastor. Parent. Activist.