I Cast My Lot With You

An open letter to everyone in my extended network of beloved warriors for love and liberation:

cw-832_bigOn Monday evening, I wrote to the people I serve through my job as Executive Director of MUUSJA – Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance and reminded them of a truth that I desperately needed to remember myself:

“You are loved beyond belief. You are enough, you are precious, your work and your life matter, and you are not alone. You are part of a ‘we,’ a great cloud of witnesses living and dead who have insisted that this beautiful, broken world of ours is a blessing worthy of both deep gratitude and fierce protection. Whatever happens tomorrow, our ancestors and our descendants are beckoning us, compelling us to onward toward greater connection, greater compassion, greater commitment to one another and to the earth. Together, we are resilient and resourceful enough to say “yes” to that call, to make it our life’s work in a thousand different ways, knowing that we can do no other than bind ourselves more tightly together, and throw ourselves into the holy work of showing up, again and again, to be part of building that world of which we dream but which we have not yet seen.”

Beloveds, this is deepest reality I know—and these words are as true this morning as they were two days ago. This knowledge emerges from the deep, buoying hope of my faith; from the whispers of all those revolutionaries and repairers who shouldered the burden of justice-making long before us; from the generations that will follow us and inherit whatever legacy of resistance and reparation we will pass along to them.

So what’s next?

First, an affirmation to all of us that it is holy to feel. Human beings have a unique capacity for empathy and emotion, and our hearts were made to swell and break in equal measure. However you are feeling this morning, you’re right. Celebrate what is worthy of celebration, because we have a sacred obligation to gratitude and joy, and goodness does indeed abound all around us. Grieve what is worthy of mourning, because lamentation is a spiritual practice and brokenness can allow us to remember how desperately we need one another, because none of us is whole by ourselves. Sleep if you are weary, seek comfort if you are afraid, rage if you are angry. Whatever you feel today, beloveds, know that it is okay, and that you are not alone.

And second, let us remind ourselves that the work that lies ahead of us is daunting, but it is not new, and it is not impossible, and it is not ours to do alone or without precedent. For all of human history—and all around us in the world right now—brave warriors for justice have fought and are fighting for the liberation of all people and the earth. Those of us who are trans and queer, people of color, disabled people, women, immigrants, poor folks… the very fact of our existence reminds us that humans are resilient beyond measure, and our kin have been stewards of the struggle for generations. They are with us as we feel, and then organize. Those of us who hold privileged identities, we must nurture our resiliency now, and remember that those who are the most at-risk on the frontlines need us to commit to show up; to be faithful followers and bold leaders, to embody and enact the values we espouse, to put our bodies and our spirits on the line because we know deep in our bones that there is no “them” and “us,” but rather that inescapable network of mutuality into which we are all woven.

Here is what I know today:

Our congregations are more important than ever. Our social justice organizations and collectives and coalitions are more important than ever. Our faith and our commitment to one another, and the work that so inevitably springs forth from it, are more important than ever.

Poet Adrienne Rich wrote:

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
So much has been destroyed.
I have to cast my lot with those who,
age after age,
perversely, with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.

Beloveds, I choose to cast my lot with you. It is good to be human together, today and every day. I love you, and I look forward to being with you in body and in spirit as we continue to bend the arc of the universe toward justice for the rest of our lives.

In faith, solidarity, and hope,
Ashley