This. Hope looks like this.
Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I felt hope. Living where I do, it has been difficult to be hopeful since the election, surrounded as I felt by mostly folks who were either pleased with the outcome of the election or ambivalent about it. Yes, I have many friends who share my values, but we are clearly outnumbered in this conservative area. I have no malice towards those who believe differently, but I am challenged to understand what they have accepted in a president. This difference feels fundamental to me, stretches the connections to people, makes me wonder about trust and faith when they can accept as their president a man who I find deplorable and, frankly, inhumane. I experienced a new guardedness and a sort of reclassification of relationships. Trust suffers. One wonders who would actually have her or his back.
Yesterday, though, a few million people answered that question for me. The historic march yesterday brought together my tribe, a disparate group of people around the world who answered that question resoundingly. I may only know a dozen or so of them, but I felt surrounded by the love of strangers. No, I didn’t participate, unfortunately. Jeremy and I had tickets to a concert last night so I didn’t plan to attend – and to be honest, I am fairly sure that I couldn’t have handled that massive group of people. I felt claustrophobic just watching on television. But watch I did, with joy and hope that I hadn’t anticipated. I was mesmerized by the spectacle of so many people, in so many places, proudly and peacefully standing up and saying “We will not accept this,” mesmerized so much that we decided not to go to the concert without a moment’s regret.
Hope, while delicious, is not a result but a call to act. I was reassured by the message shared often at these marches – “This is not an end, but a beginning.” It is our duty to feed on that hope, be nourished by it and turn it into action at every level. Millions of people gathering is all the evidence we need that our actions, large and small, will have an impact. I am not lulled into contentment, nor do I expect immediate results. However, I now understand that those millions and millions of small acts can produce change, that we are empowered to act even among those who oppose us, that we are never alone.
A wise old friend visited a few weeks ago and she took me aside, stared into my eyes fiercely, and gave me an intense reminder: this blog is not about fear and anger, but about love. I am not about what I cannot do but what I can. Life is not about what happens to me but about what I make happen. I was not completely ready to hear those things at that moment, but they stuck with me. Yesterday, that friend marched in Augusta, Maine, wearing a scarf we had given her a few years ago, taking me with her, as she said, and I was honored to be a part of it, however tangentially. Augusta, Maine’s march, of course, didn’t make the news, like so many other smaller marches across the country, but there is no doubt in my mind that those marches were as vibrant and joyful as the ones attracting hundreds of thousands of people. Every person, every single marcher mattered yesterday. In every corner of the country and the world, on every continent, people stood with pride and determination and grace and said “I cannot accept this. What happens to others happens also to me.”
So, I am vowing to hear her words and to get this blog and my work back to what brings me joy and gives me hope. This was never intended to be a political blog, and it is not my intention to make it so. I need to write about what I love, and about what makes me smile and laugh, and I will. I will also write about that which matters to me, so perhaps there will be posts of a political nature, but they will be about celebrating the tribe, I hope with humor and positive purpose.
In life, I will take action. I don’t yet know what those actions will be, but I will find grace and add my voice and determination to the chorus that sings of love and justice. I will nurture hope in my heart and the hearts of others, will speak my truth and will not be silenced. I will find the ways in which I can contribute and make a difference, and I will act with the courage of my convictions.
Yesterday I also fed the chickens, a messy job in the mud of this odd and prolonged January thaw. They were happy to see me, excited even over the prospect of scratch grains and kitchen scraps. They aren’t laying much at the moment, egg laying being heavily influenced by the amount of daylight, but that will change as the days grow longer. They are not really feeding us now, but they still need fed and cared for, so we do that of course, not for immediate payback but for their contributions to come, delicious, wholesome eggs in amounts that will overwhelm us in a month or so as spring arrives. Caring for the chickens is, frankly, not much fun in winter, but the payoff is worth it, eventually. Spring will come. Hope will bear fruit.