This morning I spent 45 minutes outside waving a bubble wand while a four-year-old friend, a self-described “Bubble Superhero,” shouted and kicked and punched and used her “rhinoceros powers” to pop the bubbles and save humanity from another bubble outbreak. I yelled and encouraged and cried out for her to save me from the bubbles.
As I waved the wand and wondered what our new neighbors might be thinking about all the commotion in our back yard, I wondered how much my young friend would know or remember about the year 2020. She knows what’s going on, as much as she can at her age: on Friday, when our families sat together for an appropriately-distanced Shabbat dinner, we talked about it together. I wonder what these bubbles she is fighting now will become when she is older.
I’ve been thinking a lot, too, about the morning that I woke up to learn that Trump had been elected. At the time, I was working as a chaplain in a hospital in Manhattan. I felt stunned, paralyzed. My partner was in tears and my son had only a vague idea of why we were so upset. I didn’t feel capable of facing the day. But I had to make breakfast for my son, pack a lunch for his day, make sure he brushed his teeth. And I had to get to the hospital and sit with the very sick and the dying. And I remember feeling a rage break through the static of my shock, saying: He cannot stop me from doing my work.
I had a young son to care for, a trans partner who needed support, and many sick, underserved patients with an overworked medical staff to care for. This is my work. He cannot take away my work.
Neither can the white supremacy that is has been rotting the heart of this nation for centuries take away my work. In fact, it is my work. I work for the health and wholeness of all. I work for healing and hope. We wake up today and it is June. The year continues. The sun is shining. COVID cannot take away our work. This. All of it. Yes. The tangled mess that you see on your social media, or the news. The crazy relative who refuses to see the truth. The cities and institutions being targeted by white supremacists and other fringe groups. The president that has absolutely got to go. The corruption and evil of a political and economic system built on gross and sinful inequality. The kids who need to be played with. The babies who need to be burped. The elderly who are alone. The homebound who are lonely. The children who have never felt safe. The parents who don’t know what to do next. The lunches that need to be packed. The nap that you need to keep going. The garden that needs to be tended. The school board meeting that must be attended.
Yesterday, Christians celebrated the feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit’s big day. We have now entered into the liturgical season known as “ordinary time,” though the world feels anything but ordinary. But the ordinary, for most of us, is our work. It is the work of honest conversations with neighbors and friends. It is the work of looking at our own communities and coming to terms with the legacies that racism have left us with. It is the work of self-care. It is the work of listening and being with. It is the work of discomfort and making mistakes and then doing the work of healing. It is the work of helping the younger generations find their work, even if that work right now looks like being a bubble superhero.
This is work. This is our work.