Mantra

When my daughter was a tiny thing – full of energy, opinions and fire – a female friend pulled me aside and offered me a mantra to breathe whenever I had reached my maternal limits. I’ve offered those words in turn to other mothers of will-filled daughters. This mantra is offered not as advice, but as a blessing: “Strong child; strong woman”.

In the last week another mantra has been on my heart. Again, I find myself sharing it not as advice, or an attempt at reframing the events of the last week, but rather as a blessing: “We have work to do; we don’t do it alone”.

At this time a week ago I sent out a letter to all of our churches calling us to prayer. Unfortunately, our fears played out on our video screens as we watched people push through barricades and into the Capitol.

The Capitol is not just an important building. We as a people may disagree vigorously on political issues but it is in this building over the last two centuries that those debates have been negotiated and distilled into laws we all agree to uphold. What occurred last week went far beyond the breaching of a building. 

We have work to do; we don’t do it alone.

I know of three Presbyterians who bore witness to the events that day. 

  • One was Representative Andy Kim of NJ (and a member of one of the churches in Elizabeth presbytery) who spoke of his heart breaking as he helped to clean up the trash in the rotunda.  
  • Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Police officer who died in service to his country during the riot had been a member of the Trinity Church near New Brunswick, NJ prior to his relocation to the DC area.
  • Read Adm. Margaret Grun Kibben, the first female clergy to serve as the chaplain to the House of Representatives calmed those who had hunkered down in fear with prayer and presence as she moved from place-to-place reminding folks they were not alone.

We have work to do; we don’t do it alone.

Our callings may be different than those of our siblings in faith, however, we are all called to serve. The work may seem insurmountable in a time of pandemic, racism and fear… but it is our work, and we do not do it alone. We do this work alongside other Kims, Sicknicks and Kibbens and we do this work in the presence of God.

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