A Letter from Your Minister
The things we do outlast our mortality.
The things we do are like monuments that people build
to honor heroes after they’ve died.
They’re like the pyramids that the Egyptians built to honor the pharaohs.
Only instead of being made of stone, they’re made out of
the memories people have of you.
~ R.J. Palacio, Wonder
Welcome to November and to our monthly theme of Memory. Fall is dragging its feet this year as trees are just now beginning to turn, and on some of these cold nights, it feels as though we skipped that season altogether. Changes of season often bring memories of that time from years gone by.
Perhaps you remember jumping with abandon into a pile of leaves as a child. You recall the feeling of landing and the sound of the crunching leaves beneath you and perhaps some subsequent itching as pieces of leaves and sticks made their way into whatever outfit you were wearing. You were brave. Unconcerned with the insects and arachnids that you shared that space with. You had the courage and creativity of a gymnast as you ran forward, aiming for the high center of the leafy mound, leaping upward and forward at just the right moment so that you had time to spin around in mid-air to land on your back. Then up again. Retreat. Advance. Repeat.
As an adult who has since raked my fair share of leaves, I wonder how much joy this activity brought my mother. She was the raker; I was the jumper. Repeated gymnastic feats took a toll on her neatly raked piles. I have no idea whether she shared in the excitement or was annoyed by the process. I wish I could ask. There are many things I’d ask if I had the chance again–not because I don’t have my own set of memories but because I’d like to view those events through a different lens–through the lens of her eyes and mind and heart.
This season, I’m mindful of the wisdom of viewing the world through multiple lenses. This month when we see mythical images of pilgrims and indigenous people enjoying a meal together, may we be mindful of the fabrications our founders and leaders have systematically perpetrated over the years. Perhaps this Thanksgiving, in addition to being grateful for our many blessings, we could also be mindful of the great cost of what we enjoy. All of it has come at a tremendous price for others–not excluding torture and even death. Nothing we have is ours. Truly. We buy, sell, and rent property that was invaded and stolen. Some of our families then profited on that land at the hands of people who were kidnapped from far shores–as if humans were commodities to be captured, bought, and sold.
This November, most of us will go vote without much thought of that right being taken away from us while it is actively being suppressed and denied all around us–blatantly aimed at the disadvantaged groups who have always suffered at the hands of the oppressors. The original inhabitants of this country who live on reservations and don’t have a street address or who only have a post office box will be denied the right to vote. It’s as if we’ve come full circle in our oppression of those from whom this land was taken. It feels as though we’re coming to the end of a chapter, and we aren’t looking forward to the next page of history because the level of unabashed prejudice, discrimination, racism, xenophobia and ethnocentricism are at levels that incite violence in those filled with hate and fear in those filled with a sense of dread that history is on the verge of repeating itself.
We cannot freeze up. We must use our voices in the service of those whose words and existence are ignored or denied. Find the courage you had as a child when you leapt through the air, completely certain of a safe landing–or at least largely unconcerned with the bumps and bruises you might encounter. Let’s get creative together about how to change this world, and this Thanksgiving, while culture offers us images of a picture perfect turkey (or Tofurkey), may we consider what this “holiday” feels like to those whose inalienable rights have never been steadfastly secured. May our eyes be opened; may we not look away; and may we do all we can to make a difference because “the things we do” really do “outlast our mortality.”
Blessed be, beloveds.
In faith and service,
~Rev. Mary Frances