On May 9 1865, 152 years ago today, President Andrew Johnson officially declared that the Civil War had ended. By then, well over 700,000 Americans had lost their lives. This morning I’m thinking of the Trump voters in my life and wondering how we’re going to come back together, call a truce, practice amnesty, cross the aisle. How do we reunite with such hatred, persecution and division occurring across the land? Continued accusations and mean-spirited interactions are not going to change hearts and minds. How could we possibly come together? I’m imagining a great field, filled with picnic tables, and all of us approaching from different directions with our covered dishes. I’d bring my Peace Chicken and Quiche of Compromise; what would they bring?
Six months have passed since the election. It’s been easy and, at times, tempting, to get lost and distracted in all the twists and turns, disappointments and successes, White House deceits and appearances of brave women and men pushing back. Yet staying anchored and grounded in our beliefs and resistance is the most important part of this continuing story. The next presidential election is 3-1/2 years away; we need to do what we’ve done these past six months 7 more times. Remember that we’re doing our work on the bones of those who have come before us and anchoring ourselves for what is coming next is key.
It’s been almost 200 days since the election and we’ve all dug deep to find ways to keep sane, hopeful, productive and whole. We’ve marched, donated money, made calls, sent postcards, read some, wrote some, reassured one another, got angry, felt hopeless. Friends are key to getting through these tough times. They listen to your troubles, drive you home, help you up and over the highest passes in the Sierras, move in with you, ask the right questions, love on you, make you laugh, help you cry, get you through the AIDS epidemic, the loss of almost everything and even the death of your mother. They can know you a long time. Keep them close, those who are on the path with you. Keep them close and let them know you are nearby.
I’m tired, like so many of you, of trying to constantly find ways to re-engage against the cruelty and greed emanating from the White House and all of its followers. Hope mixed with anger, resolve pushing back against fear, belief in ultimate goodness challenged by the hateful and murderous times we find ourselves living in. How can we keep coming back into the struggle as fully as possible? I heard a Vietnamese man, who is now an American citizen, talk about his family's dreams of eventually finding freedom in the United States of America. “Don’t forget,” his father would say. “U S A means . . . You Start Again!”
A minus tide occurred this morning along the west coast; the sea retreated and everything usually beneath the waves was exposed. I saw fantastically colorful and varied kinds of seaweed, anemones and barnacles. But also cigarette butts, beer cans, bits of plastic and shards of glass. As we head into the weeks ahead with their testimonies, hearings and investigations, I need to be prepared for what might be revealed. It may bring relief and justice, it may bring disappointment and anger. This is the challenge of revelations: they may assuage my need to be right about Trump and his team; they may frustrate and deepen the powerlessness that is always floating just beneath the surface.
All photos by Ed Wolf