This weekend, the Interfaith Round Table of Washtenaw County held our annual Thanksgiving Celebration virtually. We invited speakers from a variety of spiritual traditions to address the topic, “Gratitude in Times of Grief” through speeches, readings, and singing.
I’d like to share that today, and I hope it is uplifting to you.
While listening to a radio segment, a journalist said repeatedly,
And a couple of times,
Each time, she was speaking in the plural about more than one person. Why not, “They’re Republicans” or “They’re Democrats”?
Then I realized the phrasing of her language mirrors that of religion. Like,
“They’re Lutheran,” or “They’re Catholic.” , And I thought that was very telling.
For some, these political affiliations are creating a world of meaning and a sense of belonging, along with how we see reality itself, the world, and our place or it. For some, these affiliations are becoming the place of ultimacy and the primary place of identity.
“’Love’ is more than a feeling. Love is a form of sweet labor: fierce, bloody, imperfect, and life-giving—a choice we make over and over again. If love is sweet labor, love can be taught, modeled, and practiced. This labor engages all our emotions. Joy is the gift of love. Grief is the price of love. Anger protects that which is loved. And when we think we have reached our limit, wonder is the act that returns us to love.
“’Revolutionary love’ is the choice to enter into wonder and labor for others, for our opponents, and for ourselves in order to transform the world around us. It is not a formal code or prescription but an orientation to life that is personal and political and rooted in joy. Loving only ourselves is escapism; loving only our opponents is self-loathing; loving only others is ineffective. All three practices together make love revolutionary, and revolutionary love can only be practiced in community.
“Revolutions do not happen only in grand moments in public view but also in small pockets of people coming together to inhabit a new way of being. We birth the beloved community by becoming the beloved community. . . . When a critical mass of people practice together, in community and as part of movements for justice, I believe we can begin to create the world we want, here and now.”
–Valerie Kaur, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (One World: 2020), xv–xvi, xvii.
Yesterday, 163,405 people were newly diagnosed with COVID-19 in a single day. That’s a 73% increase from the daily cases average two weeks ago.
Yesterday, 1,171 loved ones died from COVID-19 in a single day. That’s a 33% increase from the daily loss of life average two weeks ago.*
Hospitals are pushed beyond capacity. This is difficult for COVID-19 patients, of course, but it also ends up impacting people with other health emergencies. And it delays necessary surgeries that people need.
When we meet and gather indoors (a task that is understandably desired) it is dangerous because these kinds of gatherings are fueling this spread. It’s difficult to sacrifice this, especially as it stretches on, but we need to keep making wise choices.
This is difficult to grapple with, but it’s not overdramatic. It’s true:
Sometimes people connected to us end up dying — people who weren’t even at the dinner party.Sometimes people connected to us end up experiencing long-term disability (a higher percentage than people who die) — people who weren’t even at the game night.
This is tough, but we are in a tough collective situation. It requires tough individual actions.
ur collective mental health is waning too, which is no small thing. How can we support ourselves and each other and making these necessary choices, but also feeling connected?
We’ll have to be creative in choosing what is much less risky.
But first we have to believe this: What we’re doing is risky.