It has been a real pleasure these last few weeks serving as the Sabbatical Clergyperson while Amanda has been away. I appreciate the ability to have gotten greater experience as a leader and a deeper understanding of our community. I’m also thrilled to be able to welcome Amanda back as I transition back to the role of intern.
Over the last few weeks, we have been exploring creative alternatives. We’ve looked at learning lessons of improvisation from confidence artists, science fiction as a tool for envisioning new worlds and how to build them together, guest artists sharing creative work, and hearing about finding silence to open up new possibilities. Each of these lessons has been important, but what is standing out to me the most is the spirit of resistance and activism within The Washington Ethical Society.
My first public role with our community as the Sabbatical Leader was to join with our folks to rally against the unjust immigration practices that separate families and abuse children. We assembled outside the White House with thousands of people to demand better.
At the tail-end of my time in this role, our community is working to show our response against the alt-right and white supremacists that are gathering in town this coming Sunday. This weekend marks the one year anniversary of the Charlottesville white nationalist rallies where they marched in the streets with torches spewing hate. Those rallies led to the death of the counter-protester Heather Heyer.
I know this weekend is scary and tensions are high. Many of our members are planning on engaging in counter-protests, either directly against the alt-right or in a secondary location that can serve as a safer space for those that can’t risk physical danger. We will challenge hate with love. We will work to show that those that stand for anti-oppression and anti-racism will never go away.
It is inspiring to see the way our community responds to cultural acts of injustice. At WES, I see the commitment to be better allies and to show up when we are called. With all the rallies and protests, with the constant stream of news stories, further protections being taken away, with all of these factors, how do we sustain ourselves?
When our guest speaker Crystal Mann spoke a few weeks ago, she talked about finding quiet and stillness to serve as a place of inspiration, strength, and grounding. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to find those sources of inspiration and restoration. We need to remain engaged, and we need to take care of ourselves. How do we balance those tensions?
After this coming weekend, I am sure a lot of people will need to find rest and support. Many activists and organizers are still carrying fresh wounds from last year. What ways can our community continue to foster rest and renewal along with the call to action?
For me, I try to find times to get out in nature. If I can get a few friends together to go into the woods or to the ocean, I am in bliss. I find the joy of community and joy in the natural world to be thoroughly uplifting. When I’ve been lucky, I’ve gone with friends to the beach the day before and the day after a major protest, the first to fortify ourselves and the second to release that tension we were carrying.
I would like to encourage everyone to think about the tools that you have that allow you to recharge and help us bring those into WES.
All the best,
Zeb Green, Sabbatical Clergy