Dear Friends & Partners,
Wow, what a stormy year it has been! Between the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season and the spade of mass shootings, 2017 will long be remembered as one of the “most destructive hurricane seasons on record” as well as the most deadly year for mass killings in more than a decade.
As we head into this holiday season, wild fires and storms both natural and political hover menacingly in the backdrop of our holiday cards. And wow, #MeToo – like the trees which toppled during all these storms, one by one, beloved and powerful patriarchal giants are falling from their respectable perches as stunning revelations of normalized sexual assault continue to come out into the light of day…
In his post Amid Chaos, Staying Rooted Is a Radical Act, Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojouners speaks what many feel as we look back on stormy 2017:
“These are the times in which we now live. The turbulence of this year has left many of us feeling buffeted by constant storms in politics, society, and nature.”
Not exactly the most upbeat opening to a holiday post!
As we journey this December through both the Christian season of Advent and the Jewish season of Hanukkah, we are reminded that the “glad tidings” of peace and joy that we all seek this time of year is a gift that requires a little something more from all of us. As the great Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote:
“We are indifferent to the [Advent] message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience.”
I do love the spiritual themes of this season of the light shining in the darkness of our world and find great parallels across faith lines. A good friend from college captures beautifully the universal themes of watchful courageousness that he draws from Hanukkah:
“Hanukkah begins tonight. I wish a joyous festival of lights to all. If you celebrate, enjoy the beauty of the candles, the taste of the latkes, and the sound of presents being opened. The miracle of Hanukkah was not the military victory of the Jews over the vastly superior Greek army. The miracle was that a small portion of oil that should have lasted for only one night kept the flame lit for eight days. I find a lesson in that. Light the light, even if you do not think that you have enough to keep it lit. Sometimes, our insufficiency turns out to be sufficient to get the job done.” ~ Mitch Epner
As we draw to the end of this dark and stormy year, we are grateful for you our friends and partners who wake up every day and “light the light” and encourage others to do the same during these tenuous, stormy times where we don’t know which way the winds are blowing.
In his post, Wallis offers a helpful yet sort of strange mix of courageous acceptance – these are the times in which we now live – combined with a “radically rooted” dissent:
“Amid this daily chaos, fear, and pain, one thing is clear: The role of faith leaders across society is more important than ever. Our call and our ministry requires us to stay radically rooted.”
Whether you use the language of faith or not, this image of being rooted in something deep and steady that holds in the face of life’s buffeting storms is something we all seek, particularly now as we gather for the holidays. “Radical” is not a word everyone identifies with but, dang it, we all can be a little more courageous. And if not now, when?
As I look back on 2017, a lurking sense of dark foreboding has again and again been lifted and lightened by rubbing shoulders with so many courageous people like you, our partners and friends, who are radically rooted in something – a current of timeless and universal values – that gives you a steady resolve and a brightness in your work to do your part to create the “peace on earth” we write and sing about this time of year.
Were there not so many incredible displays of courage and solidarity that marked and shaped 2017? Pause for a moment to look back on big and small, individual and collective acts of courage that have shaped our collective consciousness this past year. Amidst the stormy tumult, where have you seen a courageous rootedness in the midst of the reality TV show engulfing our country? Where have you seen a light of clarity and solidarity emerging in the face of these winds of ideological and political polarization?
As I look back on the year, so many big courageous moments have marked my own personal path. These two images from my own city of Boston – one from the Women’s March in January and the other from a counter march in August to fend off a white supremacy parade from visiting our city – and the #MeToo Time Person of the Year cover give me faith that the small acts of courage do lead to collective impact.
Aerial view of the Boston March for America with a decidedly pink hue, drawing in over 200,000 marchers.
This aerial photo says it all: To white supremacists and all hate-inflaming, violence-provoking ideologies, we will not allow you a foothold in our city or in our minds and Read More