It was July 4th. That was when I decided I needed a break. Four months. Important things have happened in that time. Much of it never made the news.
- We found a new church home. My daughter was hugely relieved as she gets attached easily and “church dating” has been really hard on her.
- I returned to Yosemite for the first time since my childhood best friend was killed there in a rock climbing accident in 2005. It was even more beautiful than I remembered.
- In Monterey, my wife and I spent 10 hours battling seasickness in a tiny boat to see an actual, live albatross in flight overhead, something I had wanted to do since I read The Rime of the Ancient Mariner at age 12.
- Within three days in late September, two of my favorite bloggers each posted that they are hanging it up, one for a break, and the other, for good.
- My family witnessed, together, an outcome in the World Series unprecedented since before my daughter’s great-grandparents were born.
- And yes, our country chose a new president, and I have sat with various friends through all their different reactions: some elated, some terrified.
I have posted before about sabbath: how important, and yet how little valued it is in our day. Especially for those who believe in their work, it is easy to justify the never-ending, bit-by-bit deplenishment of spirit that comes from doing just one more small thing.
Important things have been happening in our society. I know what I’m supposed to do if I want to be a successful writer: I need to write about what’s hot. I need to tap into the zeitgeist. I can only be relevant by connecting with an audience, and if this is a hard, cynical age, marked by division and mistrust, then I need to toss a coin, choose my side, and start shouting.
That is what I could not bring myself to do. As I stood on the sidelines these past four months, witness to all the sound and fury, I could not help remembering the words from Shakespeare’s King Lear: “What shall Cordelia speak? Love, and be silent.”
I care passionately about what is happening in our society. I believe this is a historic moment. And I believe, at a time like this, that some things— like how we treat those who disagree— are more important than which side wins.
Some hear me calling for reconciliation and mutual respect, and they hear only the voice of white privilege, brimming with complaisance and naïveté. Some hear the voice of betrayal. Some hear nice words but with no real power. But I do not believe that Christ was complacent or naïve, or that bipartisanship equals betrayal, and as for those “nice words”: history has shown they are the only words with any real power to heal.