• Mona

Growing in Solidarity

Be calm. Be kind. Be Safe.

Okay, here we are six months in assisted-living and I just had my annual MS review. Quality of life has greatly improved but physical decline continues to circle the drain. And I can get bummed out about that.

Follow that up with a few days of BBC news and that can pretty much rain on any parade. My doctor suggested counseling. Great. One more log on the pile. I told her I would consider it.

I can chase around to doctors, appointments, and professionals looking for relief but I only have so much energy and is that how I really want to spend it? And to what end? So these past weeks have been about discerning my priorities and where I’d like to spend my diminishing resources. The ever-ending theme of MS.

So while that plate is spinning, I continue to connect with my inner circle. I’m so thankful for my girlfriend’s simple walks and field trips. Just hearing about their worlds and their doings gets me away from me and mine.

Today Shauna and I were out walking in the ‘hood and talking about the high overdose rate just announced. She is involved with a street ministry where they are putting together bag lunches since there are no more kitchens. We were brainstorming what could be added in each little bag as a personal touch to show we care. We both know the well-known principle ‘When one suffers, we all suffer.’

The conversation wove around to how valued and cared-about I felt when they (the girls) reached out to me and actually entered into my MS world. Not just drove me around me around or brought me veggies from their garden. But walked beside me, went to appointments, engaged in my week to week challenges, included me in their social gatherings. And that caring boosted my self worth beyond measure. It literally transformed me.

I have another friend who works closely with alcoholics. She too enters into their world and walks beside them. Not so much to fix or cure or have answers but to let them know they are loved.

And isn’t that exactly what the conversation with Shauna was all about? How to reach out to our vulnerable brothers and sisters to help fill a giant void. To show we see them as valuable. To build a body of one people.

Which dovetailed into my morning reading from Henri Nouwen’s Discernment. It’s easier to use his words than my own so here they are:

[He was sharing his experience about joining a nuclear arms peaceful protest in a chapter about discerning a time to wait and a time to act]

… why not pray God will act? I came to understand that I was called to speak on behalf of the voiceless so that they may find hope but also the oppressor can be converted.

Acting out of discernment will not lead all persons affirming our actions, but it will point to the call to transformation of our own lives and society in which we all live.

Why should we act in the peaceful movement? So we can discover the source of violence in our own hearts. Why do I have to alleviate hunger? To unmask my own greed. Thus all actions for others can become acts of repentance that bring us into growing solidarity with our fellow human beings, and so would establish the basis for reconciliation. Indeed, God is the one who acts, and by repentance we can hasten God’s action. Here it becomes clear that our action is part of Christ’s coming, that in a mysterious way the realization of the new heaven and earth depend on us.

Page 149, Discernment, Henri Nouwen

And isn’t that what Bonnie Henry is all about? Caring for each other? Creating unity across all sectors? And isn’t that what garnered such wide respect for her methods?

So roll all that into one and the arrows all point in the same direction: building solidarity as a people. And in just the small circle I hang out with, we stimulate each other to do exactly that in our respective ways.

For the rest of the afternoon I was inspired to connect with an annual or bi/tri annual friend just to say hi (as has been my Covid custom). I did a cartoon for my 6 year old pen pal Sara who I have been conversing with since March. (A program set up here in the building.) She recently wrote me saying her family is going camping so I thought it’d be fun to send some camping cartoons with my reply. And then answered a few emails, made a few calls. The day flew by.

I know when I lay my head down tonight, I’ll be tired. And not from being bummed out, but instead from the joy of taking action in creating a future I believe in.

And go figure. My priorities presented themselves without digging.

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