Last Friday, a veritable feast for the eyes erupted in our backyard. Despite drought, our various cacti have proven their durability. One day after (and perhaps because?) our temperatures topped 100 degrees for the first time this year, we were blessed with multiple groups of stunning cactus blossoms.
Of course I was out there with my camera, capturing this brilliant and fleeting beauty (most of these blossoms last only a day). Some cacti blooms open at night because their primary pollinators are bats. Others open during the day to attract more bees and hummingbirds. This means braving the heat at midday to capture some flowers, while being up early to catch others at their peak. (Being an early bird who loves morning walks, I hardly ever need to set an alarm to be up before daybreak!)
As I’ve pondered the Garden of the Heart this week, I’ve been overwhelmed with clusters of beautiful and brave blossoms, even at the same time that it feels our country is in a fight for its soul. In state after state, people in power are looking to crush our multicolored beauty with oppressive voting restrictions. I sometimes feel like I’m watching the death of democracy—and then I’m reminded that durability must be our attitude. Even as political temperatures increase, we must prove our own strength and courage and continue flowering, even in the heat of this moment.
One of the members of our antiracism discussion group fervently and repeatedly asks us “to consider what we can do to contribute to creating a beloved community” (to quote one email from her last week). She keeps us on our toes. We must do more than talk—yet sometimes, in the face of our powerlessness, it can feel difficult to figure out what to do. In our group, we share suggestions (many related to voter support and fighting voter restrictions). Part of what I do personally is to keep writing about it here. I want to keep finding ways to make connections that make a difference.
I also ponder the durability of communities. Slave communities in America endured despite unspeakable cruelty, torture, and murder. Their descendants keep finding ways to make their community’s perspective heard. I heard a particularly powerful conversation this past week with the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, whom I knew when I worked at the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts more than a dozen years ago.
Stephanie has a new book out, and the webinar I watched is now available on the Episcopal Church Foundation’s Vital Practices website. I appreciate that she honestly speaks of how the history of the Episcopal church is “steeped in racism, establishment, and privilege” and yet she remains connected because she sees hope in the invitation to “surrender privilege and redefine church, not just for the sake of others, but for our own salvation and liberation.”
Because I sometimes struggle to find hope, I need to hear voices like hers and see bright blossoms bravely blooming despite (or perhaps because of!) punishing heat. Stephanie’s book was inspired in the twin crucibles of COVID-19 and the rising number of murders of black people in America. We have work to do as a community, and it begins by recognizing that every person belongs in God’s garden.
The word “inspired” literally means in-spirited. When we are inspired, we are tapping into the Holy Spirit, which resides within us. I believe the Spirit is what inspired this post and inspires community durability in the face of oppression.
What inspires you? How can you remain durable in the face of punishing heat? What can you do to support the blossoming durability of oppressed communities?