Today it was enough to be together...
detest much of the speechifying that takes place at them, too - but today felt different. Today about 500 people from Pittsfield, MA came out in the deep December cold to be together. Black and white, male and female, gay and straight, young and old, rich and poor were all out in the cold to BE together and to remind one another that being together matters.
We all know how divided we are these days. And we all know that precious little takes place after a rally like ours if our being together doesn't also lead to organizing for concrete actions tomorrow and the days to come. We have the potential to build stronger community/police connections to help make a good police department better. There are new/old ways for black and white congregations to listen to one another and explore our common ground and our very real differences. And we might also be nourishing young artists throughout this community who could find an expression for their experiences AND help the rest of us know what it feels like to be young, confused and alive at this moment in time. There are a LOT of blessings that might spring from the ground of today's time together. But for now just being together seemed like that was enough.
It was a walking prayer of sorts for me. I saw clergy and friends, members of my own faith community and others from the region who made the effort to be together and their presence in community blessed my soul. I shared the bitter wind on my face and the hard cold in my bones with a few hundred strangers and this willingness to go beyond our own comfort blessed my heart. I sang a few of the "old school" songs with other old timers and beamed as high school students took up the chorus and this unity among civil rights veterans and young students blessed my mind with the importance of a shared history of struggle. There was a tenderness on the streets. There was a bit of humility here, too. And when an overly zealous speaker got carried away with the microphone I whispered to a friend standing next to me trying to stay warm, "OMG we're really in trouble if they give the mic to a minister! The politicians are bad enough... but please Lord NOT the clergy!" (Been there and done that too many times in the past.)
Mostly the blessing of this day for me had to do with solidarity. Yes, we now
have to find a way beyond the words that mostly no one could really hear. (When, Lord, o when will your people learn to use bullhorns?) Yes, we have to find out who is willing to give up part of her/his agenda so that we might do the hard work of community organizing together, too. Getting caught up in the passion of one afternoon is one thing, but changing the status quo is very much another.
Still for today the walking and the wind, the solidarity and the songs were enough. It was important just to be together today - and I am grateful.