Reflections on the election


This box greeted me when I got off the elevator at my office today.

Here are some things I’ve learned as an adult churchgoer that are coming to mind as I gird myself for the future with our next president.

  • At any given moment, one person can be having a transcendent experience while another person in the same pew, maybe the person sitting right next to you, can be enduring a kind of hell that can’t end a moment too soon.
  • Some people sing beautifully, with rich harmonic sensibility. Others can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Regardless of where any of us are on the musical spectrum, some sing loudly, others quietly, others not at all.
  • For some, a particular prayer or passage of scripture is a precious, delicate thing that must not be tampered with. For others, the same prayer or passage of scripture is an oppressive trigger.
  • There are good reasons why the most frequent thing Jesus is reported to have said is, “Do not be afraid.”
  • One person’s heroic messiah is another person’s evil terrorist who must be humiliated and destroyed.
  • When forces of oppression and annihilation are on the loose, some people collude. Some people flee and hide behind locked doors. Some people keep their heads down and try to pass. Some people—usually those with the least to lose—run headlong into danger, testifying with their bodies or their words or their lives, to the irrational notion that love is stronger than death.

As last night’s election results began to coalesce, my father called me from his bed in the rehab unit where he’s recovering from a heart attack and emergency double bypass surgery. His first words were, “So. Where are you moving?”

My immediate reply surprised me, not so much with its content but with its ferocity, given how defeated and despondent I felt, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying and I’m fighting.”

As I talked with each of my parents last night, as we shared our laments and anger, I felt a deep and renewed appreciation for how that response to stay and fight for what I believe and whom I belove is something I learned from them. Even as I feel so sorry for their having to endure this latest election, I feel infinitely blessed that they are both still alive to remind me how to survive this election: with love, by love, for love.

Yes, some of us are grieving while others are celebrating. Some of us are dying while others are being born. Some of us are feeling liberated while others are being incarcerated, tortured, even murdered for who we are. This is how life is. This is how life has always been. Our task has always been this: figure out what you want your life to stand for and live it as fearlessly and courageously as possible. Take your inspirations where you can find them and build on them. Learn how to love both ferociously and tenderly, and then use that love to change what you can, in yourselves and in the world.

After last night, many of my friends are wondering what we tell our children, whether they are adults or not yet born or somewhere in between. This is what I’m telling mine. And I aim to live long enough for them to tell me their version of this when I need to hear it.

Come to think of it, they already have.


8 responses to “Reflections on the election

  1. Joy, I woke up hoping you would have some hopeful words for how to survive this election. Love is the only answer once again.

  2. This brought tears to my eyes after enduring a night of very little sleep. I fear what’s next, but will get on with my life, now. One step at a time, beginning with endless, sappy, Hallmark Hall of Fame movies until I can feel some hope in mankind.

  3. Thanks, Joy– as usual. Penny

    On Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 8:56 AM, The Crooked Line wrote:

    > joyhowie posted: ” Here are some things I’ve learned as an adult > churchgoer that are coming to mind as I gird myself for the future with our > next president. At any given moment, one person can be having a > transcendent experience while another person in the same pew,” >

  4. Tammy Lindle Lewis

    Thanks for shining a ray of sunlight and hope into the dark reality that fear and hatred is alive and well in the US. I was so hopeful we were moving forward toward a future that includes all of us. It’s been a while since I’ve been enveloped in so much despair for our direction as a nation.

  5. I need good people who do words right now. I can’t muster a complete thought. So, I’m searching for words of direction, good words written by people whose words have strengthened me in the past. You are one of those people. Words from you and people like you are water to my thirsty, parched mind.

  6. I so agree with “judiwth”! I am embarrassed by the few words (one in particular) that I am able to utter today and thankful for friend to let me use them as often as I did as a type of therapy I suppose…but your words are helping to shine a light on the path forward. We won the popular vote and we are not going anywhere.

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