The pain, grief and sheer disbelief of a majority of Americans since November 8 can hardly be expressed. This can’t actually be happening, but it is. It’s On Beyond Zebra. We wake up wondering if, while we slept, Trump accidentally bombed North Korea because he got a little bug up his kadunkadunk at 3:00 a.m. Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner at the helm? Even my Republican friends are sick about Trump and Paul Ryan’s draconian and insane budget. Just off the top of my head, they want to cut Meals on Wheels? Meals on WHEELS? It tuns out that Ryan has dreamed since college about how much food there will be for the rest of us when we stop free handouts to those greedy grabby gobbly sick and elderly people.
People are afraid on turn on their phones: what bizarre thoughts and threats has Trump tweeted at dawn? Friends started smoking. Not to mention that everyone has gained the Trump Twelve.
So why, in this fever dream, do I still believe that we will be okay; that Grace bats last, that mercy from within us and around us will be more than enough to help us come through? Partly, as usual, it is because of the profound and passionate humanitarian response, of peopl, churches, mosques and temples. Partly it is the stunning generosity of people giving to great societal causes.
And partly, I need to plagiarize from myself to answer:
In many spiritual and wisdom paths, it is written that God created us to have company and to be God’s loving eyes and hands on earth. But in certain African Christian catechisms it says that God created us because He or She thought we would like it.
This stops me in my tracks. We would like it? Yes, of course we like the friendly, warm, or breathtaking parts of life. But it’s so hard for almost everyone here, the whole world over, let alone my own beloved. You cannot believe what the people I love most have lost this year. God thought we would like wattles, divorce, warfare, snakes, and acne? I could go on and on—senescense, global warming, urinary tract infections?
Yes, because in the words of Candi Staton’s great gospel song, “Hallelujah Anyway.” Hallelujah that in spite of it all, there is love, there is singing, nature, silliness, chocolate and mercy.
Mercy means that we soften ever so slightly, so that we don’t have to condemn others for being total shits, although they may be that. (Okay: are.) If I do so, it makes me one. As Father Ed Dowling said, sometimes heaven is just a new pair of glasses. When we put them on, we see the awful person, sometimes even ourselves, a bit more gently, and we are blessed in return. It seems, on the face of things, like a decent deal.
Kindness toward others, and radical kindness to ourselves buys us a shot at serenity, at a warm and generous heart, which is the greatest prize of all. Do you want this, or do you want to be right?
Well, can I get back to you on this? Okay, wait. Never mind: I’m in. Last week, my Sunday School kids, all under ten years old, made a Lenten contract for the week, not to talk meanly to themselves, to make boxes of toys and art supplies for Goodwill, and to tell at least one old person every single day that they LOVED his or her clothes. That sounds right to me.