After last month’s column I’m sure no one will be surprised when I write about “May Flowers” this month. I think of them as the reward for living through the long winter that ends with the spring rains. And, as always, they form a metaphor for me. I’ve always done justice work and I’m well aware that often it feels like there is no end in sight and very little reward for the effort and the accompanying pain. At the moment, I cannot offer an alternative hypothesis to that feeling. In the past month I’ve gone to several justice seeking events and after two of them today, it’s hard to stay upbeat. This morning I met with others as we attended the County Board of Education meeting. I was there for public comment time. The speeches before mine were like fingernails on a blackboard [for those of you old enough to remember that particularly unpleasant experience] and they left me feeling raw and in pain. So much vitriol and anger, so much disrespectful rhetoric! This afternoon I went with another group to stand with workers at a company in Orange County that has now dragged their feet for two years since a union was voted in by workers - refusing to set up a meeting to begin negotiations. We weren’t treated rudely, but were left standing for a long time before anyone in management would talk with us. When that finally happened we got no substantive response from the person who met with us. And so I wonder how I can write an upbeat column in the face of such disappointment.
But here’s the thing! In both cases today, and in many others in the past weeks I was struck by the loving, committed group of people who I joined in these justice efforts. They were truly a balm to my dispirited feelings. I noticed that they are often the same people - from one event to another and I liked the smiles with which I was greeted by friends I didn’t even know a few months ago. I am gratified by my own feelings of joy as I greeted them. We are a diverse group, we justice seekers. We are a rainbow of colors, a wide range of ages, we consist of a variety of “orientations,” a number of different faith groups,and we show up for a number of different causes - because let’s face it: there’s plenty of oppression to go around. That sense of belonging to a wonderful group of people who care about and want to stand with those who are being treated badly is just the antidote I need!
As I think back over the past years I realize that those friendships that have bloomed in my life through working on justice have always been the reward for doing the work. It’s never been easy work, always involves some pain, but enfolded in the warmth of a group of like-minded others makes it a joy. So may you all find the “May Flowers” that come to you in your work in the world, whatever form that takes. May we take the expanding interconnection that grows in our lives as the incentive to keep on keeping on, until we build the world we dream about.