“The Day After, and Beyond” by Fr. Daniel
The day after the General Election has been less decisive than the parties had hoped. What IS clear is that the results so far confirm how deeply divided our country is. While robust differences are healthy for a democracy, no one would argue that this is a healthy time in ours. This goes beyond any particular candidate or policy. It often seems as though a winner-take-all kind of partisanship has replaced an older sense of governance for the common good. Suspicion and vilification of the “other” is a dominant theme across the spectrum.
While it is common and normal for an election to take up to several days to count all the votes, the in-between time is never an easy one to inhabit. What to do now? At every crossroads there is something to be done, even if that something seems like just a little. Right now waiting is a good thing to do.
But HOW we wait makes all the difference. Anxiety runs high — another pandemic on our plate. It may seem impossible at the moment to bring down our individual or collective emotional temperature, but taking a gentle approach can help us more than a heroic one.
Take a moment at least once a day over the next three days just to pause and notice the tension you are carrying in your body, notice where your anxiety has gotten particularly amped up in your mind, and just take three minutes to reflect on it quietly, with tenderness, without trying to change it in any way. Often just observing something can actually have the greatest effect. Just take three breaths, tenderly paying attention to your anxiety, and notice how things change in that short time with that smallest of gestures.
Everything we have witnessed over the past several years on the cultural, political, and climactic fronts have been decades, even centuries, in the making. In the days ahead, no matter how the election is decided, our best and most creative effort as individuals, as the community of St. Paul’s on the Green, and as a national body will be called for. The dark things we have wrought can can transformed much faster than they were created, but only if and when a critical mass of centered, grounded, prayerful members of the community lead the way — beyond castigation and toward coalition-building and cooperation, with plenty of courageous self-reflection and collective action. I pray and fully expect that we will be part of that critical mass.
I began the prayers in the church on Election Day yesterday with Psalm 46:10, read several times, shortening the verse each time to lead into a prayer of awareness of God’s Presence:
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
I invite you to try adding that prayer to your own, as a way of rooting and grounding more deeply in God. From that anchored place of prayer we can move the world, and knit the hearts of the whole people of God together, and heal our land.