Into the Wilderness
March 9, 2017
It’s taken me until Lent to try to write about what’s been happening since January. The last month-plus has been an emotional rollercoaster as the new Voldemort administration – I’ve decided to refer to the new president as President Voldemort until further notice, to deny him his branding and keep my blog free of his name – has released an unending stream of horrifying craziness upon the country. There has been so much to complain about that I haven’t even been able to keep track of it all. Even as I recognize that my privilege will insulate me from many of the worst decisions coming out of Washington, I grieve for all those directly affected. Meanwhile, the stress within my family has risen with the level of exterior crazy, while my work hasn’t been exactly stress-free either, with major deadlines last month and in late January. To put it mildly, I haven’t been in the mood for New Year’s Resolutions, starting new projects, or hauling myself off of the sofa and onto anything new & exciting.
The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that what I’ve been feeling has felt exactly like endless Lent: an extended trip into the (inner) wilderness, and a trip that won’t necessarily end with Easter like it normally does. Normally Lent is when I try hardest to tackle new things, like fasting from carbon, giving more time to others, or self-improvement projects. I did manage to make a list of things to do and to peruse some of the Lenten calendars online (here’s one if you need it). But I’m not sure I’m up to the task. The wilderness alone is just so daunting, much less all the extra obstacles I could choose to tackle to make my stay here more challenging.
This year, I want to commit to learn how to give myself and others extra slack; how not to expect too much when there’s no reason to expect anything at all; and how to forgive what needs forgiving. Maybe I will also manage to clean out my apartment of stuff I don’t need, exercise at least three times a week, and re-start my company-wide service projects. Or maybe I’ll just try to get some sleep. The wilderness is enough to handle on its own.
I wanted to write a scathing denunciation of Voldemort and his cronies, a fervid paean to liberalism, tolerance, and diversity, and a trenchant critique of modern American politics, but I’m just too tired. I can’t even imagine how tired all the real activists, leaders, and fighters must be, the ones who are organizing the resistance and trying to galvanize tired people like me to assist. I am grateful that my elected Congresswomen are out there representing me fully in the US House and Senate every day, pushing back against the crazy (read: racism, sexism, xenophobia, scapegoating, nepotism, lying, and rampant abuse of the office of president). I am grateful for so many women and men who are making sure we understand how “not normal” these last weeks have been, even if I can barely keep up with what’s happening. I am grateful for friends and colleagues who support me and my family. I am grateful for everyone who is calling their representatives and writing letters and naming injustice when they see it, because injustice has become a much more obvious part of our society in the last few weeks; even if it’s always been here, it’s become much bolder than before.
I remain hopeful that the Voldemort comparison is only a metaphor and that the new administration is not actually intent on subverting our democracy into some kind of dictatorship; that at least some members of the new administration are decent people at heart, even if they support some of Voldemort’s policies; and that our system of government is robust enough to withstand even this. I remain hopeful that we the resistance can successfully continue to resist. And I am hopeful that once I can understand life in the wilderness a little better, I can find the road out of it and help others along the way.
But for now we are here in the wilderness, so for this Lent, I’m going to try to learn to live with that.