I am heartbroken this morning.
I gasped for air in the night, nursing a baby whose heartiness and frailty balance as a paradox in my arms, checking the news when he woke me every two hours or so. I am genuinely surprised, and horrified, and scared.
And I am angry. I am angry at friends and loved ones whose votes helped bring this reality to pass: a president with whom I would not trust my three-year-old daughter, from whose hateful words I have shielded her small ears. A president whom I cannot trust not to mock my visually impaired son, much less support policy in his favour (and this wound is still so fresh in my soul). A president who has campaigned by appealing to hatred and fear, prejudice and xenophobia.
Who are we? What have we wrought?
I am heartbroken, and I am angry, and I am bewildered.
And so today I am focusing on these three things.
I do not mean this to sound condescending. If my chosen candidate had been elected, I believe that folks on the other side would also have deep concerns and frustration at those of us who voted for her and would have similar forgiving work to do. This has been the tenor of the election: deeply divisive, leading us further and further away from any capacity to imagine each other's perspective.
Many who voted for the president-elect did so out of hatred or fear of others (immigrants, people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ folk), responding to his rhetoric of exclusion that preyed on their disappointments. They have made this clear themselves.
But I do not believe that all my friends and loved ones who voted for him or for a third party did so from these motivations. I want to believe that they were trying to do their best. I want to believe that they were trying to be faithful to the world as they understand it. This is not the world as I understand it. This is not pro-life as I understand it, for example. This is not Christianity as I understand it. But even if I think they were deeply wrong, I want to believe that they were trying to do their best.
This will take time.
As the ancient poet said, the task of people of faith living in a crooked and warped generation is to shine like stars: to take the narrow high road, to refuse arguments and bitterness, to think highly of others and to treat them as we would want to be treated.
My hope was never in a government in the first place. My hope is in daily acts of self-giving love: inviting neighbours over for dinner, asking good questions, living with subversive kindness and peacefulness and gentleness.
And beauty: may we throw ourselves into beauty. May we create it, with paint and with our bodies and with words and with the seeds we sow in next spring's soil. May we celebrate it and champion its makers.
May we read our children fantastic books that spark their imaginations, and may we turn off our televisions in favour of poetry, and may we play the best music we know, and may we choose to love and practice hospitality and pursue justice for the earth. May we stand with Standing Rock and dance with brides and love our enemies and find one thing to do each day that glows against the backdrop of confusion and despair.
May we not despair.
I have a jug of cream in my fridge that's at the edge of its life, and so today I will bake a double batch of cream biscuits. I will fold five loads of laundry and tidy my living room, and I will change diapers and sweep floors. I will cut into cloth and stitch it, and brainstorm over whom I can share the biscuits with, who might be needing them most.
In other words: I will get on with life. I will scrub the sink. I will be gentle with my tender self and my tender children and my tender spouse, and I will carry on in daily living with the trust that this is what one must do, that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives, that the kind of life I want to lead is one with shared biscuits and clean sinks and quietness.
There will be time for direct action and bold words and outright resistance, but today is not that day. Today is a day for biscuits.
"[P]eace, like a poem, / is not there ahead of itself," writes Denise Levertov. It is made in "each act of living."
Let us live.