Today is the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the President of the United States of America. Some people I know are rejoicing, glad to have the country back in “God’s hands.” Most all of the folks in the circles that I live and work are heavy, burdened, grieving, sick-to-their-stomachs, and aching for the reality of what this means for so many on the margins.
Today is also the day that there are women’s marches across the country, and it’s beautiful to see so many coming together, standing together, resisting together, refusing to just align with policies and practices that are in huge violation of so many of our core values about dignity and freedom and equality.
I’ve been struggling and I’m not afraid to say it out loud. It’s not because my hope isn’t in Jesus and my faith is weak. It’s not because I am all tangled up with politics and I’m supposed to only focus on “church”. It’s not because I have been wooed by the world and think politics will solve all of our problems.
It’s because this election has violated some of the things I care most deeply about and it got all tangled up with a big block of Christianity, which created a double ache.
I’ve had an image swirling around in my head for the past few weeks that has helped me as I consider a way forward into all that is ahead for me, for us. It comes from one of my favorite passages in the Bible, Isaiah 61:1-4.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
There are so many things in there I love about healing and freedom and rebuilding in different ways. Today, the imagery of oaks of righteousness stands out in an extra way. The hebrew word for righteousness here is tsedeq–and it also means “justice.”
Trees of Justice.
The three words that have been coming back to me over and over as I consider this new year and what’s ahead are roots, resilience, resistance.
Roots, resilience, resistance.
Roots – As we move forward into 2017, we have got to dig deep into what we know to be true, what we care about most, what fuels our fire, what sustains us. Dignity, mercy, justice, hope, compassion, equality. Those are my roots and I’ve got to nourish them, strengthen them, remember they are grounded in God’s reality. Right now is a time to remember our core values, not waiver, and remained anchored into the deeper truths that bring life and hope and purpose. Here’s the other amazing thing about roots and trees that I love to remember–in an aspen grove, underneath the ground’s surface, all of the roots are tied together, flowing together, giving life to each other.This is one of the best things about what’s happening in the world right now–a recognition that we are truly in this together.
Resilience – This is one of my favorite words, and oh how we need resilience right now. Trees can be battered and bruised, withstand the elements, be chopped down and still grow back. They are so freaking resilient! And so are we. We might bend, but we will not break. We might get knocked down, but we will rise. Our ability to withstand adversity as human beings is an incredible thing; this is a time to be compassionate with ourselves about the struggle but strengthen our ability to bounce back and carry on. Those who have been on the margins have this quality like none other, and there’s a lot to learn there.
Resistance – We don’t have to accept that things that violate the deepest places of our life and faith are “normal.” We don’t have to make nice and just “accept reality.” We don’t have to give ourselves over to power just because it’s got the votes. So many of us are used to going along with authority, submitting to it because that’s what we were taught to do. This is a chance for so many to listen to what’s resonating inside and act on it, to speak up, to rock the boat, to disrupt the status quo, to call out injustice, to refuse to be complicit in things that violate faith and freedom and dignity.
Roots, resilience, resistance.
Men and women together.
With you, my friends.
Stand strong, stand tall, stand firm.
Trees of justice and mercy and compassion and hope and peace.
Roots deep, weathering storms, bearing witness, standing strong.