Friends, this was hard to write this week. I’m not giving myself a pass. The Judge wins then. I listened to The Witness and gave myself permission that even if my thoughts are jumbled or inarticulate or not just not there as they usually would be, it’s okay. It’s a reflection of how I feel. Give yourself permission to feel that way too. Sometimes we’re a hot mess of emotions and feelings and thoughts. Messiness is the battleground for growth.
Last night, I attended mass at St Frances Cabrini Catholic Church with my son, as I do many Saturday evenings. November 12 happens to be the feast day for St. Frances Cabrini, so special prayers were included. We are newer to this church and unfamiliar with the history of its patron saint, so imagine my surprise when I heard the priest say, “St. Frances Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants.”
Reader friends, I cried.
We were celebrating and honoring the patron saint of immigrants, 4 days after a man whose stated he’s going to build a wall and enforce an immigration policy in which only “rigorously vetted immigrants who embrace our way of life” are allowed.
Since Wednesday morning, when I woke up before my 4:30 a.m. alarm, and discovered that Donald Trump had garnered enough electoral votes to become president, I have felt paralyzed. I never imagined enough people would choose a person to become president who had OPENLY shouted such vile, divisive, crude things. Shock and devastation flooded my Facebook News Feed, mirroring my reaction perfectly. The Judge and The Witness are in the corner. Fear is in the house and is demanding attention.
I’ve read countless online articles about how it happened, why it happened and what to do now. Even in all the recommendations of what to do, the mixed messages are paralyzing. Wear a safety pin; don’t wear a safety pin. Protest; don’t protest. Petition the electoral college; the electoral college was created to protect against “super democracy.”
I search and read and scrutinize. I Google Steve Bannon and Mitch McConnell and Kris Kobach. I find solace in online reactions and posts by Mike Rowe, Jen Hatmaker, and Glennon Doyle Melton, and many others that I cannot name. Some offer positive resolutions we must make. Most offer words of comfort. All resound the message that we cannot sit back and be indifferent.
And yet Fear is still there. Fear is rearranging furniture and hanging pictures. You would think that The Judge would be helping Fear, but The Judge is pretty silent. He tells Fear, “You got this. I’ll be over here catching up on my DVR.”
I’ve found, over the years, that Fear appears in many forms. One of the stronger forms of Fear is really the Fear of the Unknown. It is paralyzing. It can transform highly-intelligent individuals into bumbling idiots. I’ve experienced it first-hand and witnessed it others. From what I read, and watch, I think THAT is the emotion that is fueling the fire on both sides. I believe that is why anti-Trump protests are popping up nationwide–not because he won, but what he represents and people don’t know what he’s going to do. THAT is why children of immigrants are afraid their parents will be deported. THAT is why women are frantically researching how to finance birth control and mammograms and newborn care.
However, there is another form that is even stronger. The Fear of the Unknown is becoming The Fear of Reality. Students in schools in my home state are chanting “Build that wall,” or barring classmates of minority backgrounds from entering the school. There are graffiti slurs sprayed on walls. Hijabs being ripped off women’s heads. Notes with swastikas are scribbled on napkins and given to gay couples. Clearly, The Fear of Reality is the worst.
I wish I could offer words to console. I wish I could be light-hearted and truly believe that “this is all going to be okay”. But Fear in all its forms is here. I fear for innocent victims that will lie in the wake of the decisions of the government officials who will take office in January. I fear for the misguided persons that will act out of an apparent acceptance of hate. I fear that this will create division in our country that will take generations to overcome. Finally, I fear for myself because I am always optimistic and right now, any ounce of optimism I find, drips away.
So I will do the strongest thing I know how to do to fight Fear, in all its forms. I will pray. I will pray, and then I will act on that prayer. I will find optimism and hope in the actions that prayer and courage provide. So I close this with tonight’s special intention prayer:
God our Father,
who called Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy
to serve the immigrants of America,
by her example,
teach us to have concern for the stranger,
the sick, and all those in need,
and by her prayers help us to see Christ
in all the men and women we meet.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(PS–I write my posts Saturday, but don’t publish them until Sunday morning. I let it simmer and stew overnight and reread them in the morning with a fresh set of eyes. So last night, I finished this and went to bed to watch a little TV. Saturday Night Live came on, and its opening sketch was the great Kate McKinnon portraying Hillary Clinton again. She was at a piano, playing the recently deceased Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” When the lines:
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah