It’s a heretical thought, but what if we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be?

President* Trump,

Yesterday evening a wren flew into our front window, probably disoriented by the smoggy, smoky air. I’m not sure if it bounced off the window the eight or so feet to the tree in the front yard or somehow scuttled over to it, but the little thing sat almost motionless under the tree for about an hour. Fortunately it appears it was only dazed as it wasn’t there after we finished eating dinner. I’m pretty sure we would’ve heard something had a neighborhood predator been involved with its disappearance so I’m going to conclude that it flew away under its own power.

Then this morning I got an email from my Mom who lives in far Northeast Portland that the smoke there was so thick she couldn’t see the houses across the street. It’s true that my sister’s family and my brother’s daughter haven’t had to evacuate their respective homes at this point, and I am grateful about this, but oh my goodness is this a bad situation.

Holding all of the above (and tons of other stuff), I honestly don’t know what to make of the fact that our pastor ended her sermon this morning enjoining us to adopt the position that everything is already as it should be, that everything is already ok and that we should interface with the world from this position.

She’s not a Pollyanna type; she calls out the injustice and trauma happening in our midst all the time so it’s quite confounding to me that she’s telling us to act as if everything is already ok. I mean, how are we supposed to effect change if we behave as though things are fine (when they are most certainly not)?

I’m not asking this rhetorically – I really don’t get it. And, I so trust her integrity and her intelligence that I’m going to assume, for now, that chewing on this koan-like riddle will be good for me.

This may or may not be a clue, but Jennifer Rubin’s WP editorial this afternoon provides kind of a – ‘hey, things are actually better than they appear on the surface’ – sort of take (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/09/13/trump-racism-xenophobia-havent-caught/). She runs through a bunch of recent polls showing that Americans have not bought into your racist, xenophobic crap and that in fact, things are moving in positive directions. For example, we’ve shifted our opinions about how difficult it is to be a Black person here in the US, with 9% more of us agreeing that it’s harder to be Black in America than it is to be White than said this in 2016. It’s definitely mostly Democrats doing the shifting here, but it’s still really positive that more of us who lean liberal are waking up to systemic racism even if you’ve managed to entrance most of your posse with racist dog whistles. On immigration, the positive shifts are more bipartisan with 60% of us saying that immigrants strengthen the country, a sharp uptick from just 46% saying this in 2016.

I don’t think I’ve cracked the “act like everything is already ok” koan, but maybe part of the idea is that we’re where we’re supposed to be, that it’s taking seriously awful shit to get our attention but our attention is getting gotten and we’re finally waking up. Maybe that’s the good news she was encouraging us to trust. I mean, I suppose if we were to behave as if everything is already ok, even while navigating climate change-driven wild fires and hurricanes, COVID-19, systemic racism and sexism, and a profoundly corrupt administration, we’d be pretty unstoppable. Hmm.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but I’m going to leave there for now.

May we be safe.
May we be willing to be uncertain and confused.
May we try on the idea that we are stronger than we think and that we are enough.
May we accept that things are already ok (or at least try to) (for now).

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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