Last week, I received my newsletter from our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. I scanned it for whatever tidbits of information I thought would still pertain to me—the fallen member who hasn’t attended a service in almost three years. (Being a fallen Catholic has its own issues, but a fallen UU?? Perish the thought.) As usual, I noticed the title of Sunday’s sermon: “Where Do We Go From Here?” Gee, I thought, I’d like to know that.
D. did too, so we walked down the street a mile or so and entered the building for the first time since the end of 2005. It looked much the same. Our nametags where just where we’d left them. There were lots of new faces, and enough familiar ones to make it feel homey. We struggled through an unfamiliar song or two, but remembered the words to our covenant. We settled in for the readings, which were poignant, and the sermon, which was amazing as always.
The congregation clapped and cheered loudly as our ultra-cool minister started by sharing his delight in the idea of a President Obama. His talk centered around the joy and challenges that have bubbled up in many (ok, all) of us in the congregation.
“Hold onto that joy,” he said, “even when reality and cynics try to take it from you. Hold onto it for a while.” He went on to describe a feeling that I share with him completely. A stone-like creature that has been sitting in my gut (or was it in my heart?) for, oh, about eight years now. A stone whose presence was such a familiar feeling that I forgot to notice it after awhile. Until it made me angry. Or made me sad. It sometimes made me tired. But mostly the stone made me feel hopeless—and my hopelessness grew.
It didn’t go away when I moved across the country in an attempt to escape it. It didn’t go away when I tried to surround myself with more people like me and fewer people like those in the administration. It didn’t go away when I positioned myself fifty miles from the Canadian border—just in case it got so bad that I had to leave.
The little stone in my heart didn’t go away, and I felt hopeless enough to stop trying. I stayed away from the Unitarian Fellowship. I stopped decorating my house for holidays. And we didn’t celebrate Christmas last year—not really. We were happy to have friends and family in our home, and we cooked and talked and ate and drank and laughed. But there was no usual holiday frenzy of excitement. There was no shopping for the perfect gift. There were no handmade, imperfect gifts, either.
But now I have joy. I have hope. I’m happy and proud again. I feel like being around people like me again—people who can now really, truly believe that our future will be better than our past. And I’m holding tight to all of it—the pride, the joy, the happy. With all of this, I know I can work toward the change I want to see.
I couldn’t do it without hope. But I can do it without that stone of hopelessness that was weighing me down. That stone that suddenly wasn’t there anymore as of 11:00 (Eastern time, because we were in Virginia) on November 4, 2008.
Want a free Obama sticker like the one at the top of this post? It's designed by Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the iconic HOPE poster. And MoveOn's giving them away totally free--even the shipping's free.
I just got mine. Click this link to get your free Obama sticker:
A Post I Have Been Writing In My Head For Months
5 years ago