How We Feel
"Please help me find the good in this. I'm devastated and terrified about the election results and don't feel strong enough to explain this to 8-year-olds, let alone bring a little girl into the world with this much bigotry and hate and sexism and awfulness. What's the silver lining?"
How do I respond to this text, from a gentle, eight-months-pregnant elementary school teacher I love with my whole heart this morning, before coffee, in the dark dawn after a sleepless night?
"It will be okay. Begin today by doing good, by being kind, brave, and helpful. You are a leader at school. Do not despair. Do the good work you were given to do, that is the best response, one day at a time."
You know that line from Mr. Rogers' mother, about "look to the helpers, you will always find people helping" in a frightening event? Well, schoolteachers are the helpers I see today, and tomorrow and the next day. They are teaching our children civility, kindness, to work hard and study and be prepared, and to respect each other. That people should live by the Golden Rule. We are all in a national emergency room of sorts today. So be a helper, too. Smile. Make people feel better. As my friend Liam says on the local radio station ID, "Be good to one another".
Here's something else to consider if you are feeling like you have been run over by a truck. You can survive it, I did, but healing takes time. It took me nearly a year to walk well again, and a few more years to ride my bike hard. It also changed me. First, I had never believed anything so bad could happen to me. Now I know there but for the grace of God go all of us, and I am kinder and stronger because of that. Secondly, the only control I had following the shock and horror of the accident, and the long recovery, was my response to it. Yes, it was awful and unfair and scary, but complaining, blaming, and railing against it didn't help, in fact, it made me feel worse. And finally, and it's too soon to tell perhaps, but there is something empowering and clarifying about surviving the worst thing you can imagine. It gave me confidence I didn't have before. It helped me see what was important in my life and how I chose to walk in the world, and who I wanted to spend my time with, what causes I will work for, and donate to, and to not shrink from what my conscience tells me. I'm braver, especially in challenging injustice when I see it. May this be true for you. There's a lot to keep fighting for.
Haines voted for Hilary, so there's that consolation. But some of my favorite people, and dear friends, voted for Trump. I realized when I was watching the Cubs games sitting next to one that I wasn't prepared to lose a friendship over this election. I'm not giving Trump that victory.
Now, I'm off to Anchorage to speak tomorrow at the Alaska Broadcasters Association annual meeting. (I know, seriously? Now?) -- and the Unitarian Church on Sunday.
In the meantime, here is the prayer the Episcopal Church nationwide is asking members of our denomination to say today:
O God: Give me strength to live another day; let me not turn coward toward its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties; Let me not lose faith in other people; keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness; Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them; Help me to keep my heart clean, and so live honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity; Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things; Grant me this day some new vision of the truth; inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the cup of salvation to suffering souls. Amen