This morning, November 9th, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. only to learn that the person I never imagined winning the presidential election had won. After that, it was a long day. Throughout my busy morning and afternoon, I met with people who felt the same way I did. Some cried. Many were experiencing anxiety over an unknown future. Others felt empty inside. I prayed with folks and hugged others. At Westminster-Canterbury, we read Psalm 23 and shared communion together. Our girls in California and Oregon texted Heather and me, hoping their parents would soothe their fears and take the sting out of the election. We were not sure what to say. We simply texted back to say how much we loved them. My mother called to tell me the last time she felt like this, President Kennedy had been shot. It has been a long, strange day and I’m sure there will be many more days like this to come. But two personal reflections have helped me end this day unlike I started it.
Years ago, after the earthquake in Santa Cruz, CA in 1989, after the US invaded Iraq, after an arsonist burned one of my churches– after all these experiences– I turned to Psalm 46 for perspective and strength:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
10“Be still, and know that I am God!
Psalm 46 reminds me that other people in the past have endured similar days of despair and change. The Old Testament prophets certainly warned the Hebrew people about this kind of thing happening, and the people refused to listen. With the results of this election, perhaps this will be an era of more prophetic preaching and teaching. Indeed, the ground may shift beneath our feet, the roaring waters may shake our confidence, and there may be no healing salve to take away the raw pain we feel, but the psalmist’s words echo in the chambers of our hearts: “Be Still.” Psalm 46 reminds us that we believe in a wisdom that confounds the world’s wisdom. God whispers in times like these, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
The second reflection I’ve had today, is my own complicity in not reaching out to those who hold such different views from my own. I confess I have not been patient enough or mindful enough to really understand a point of view so foreign to my own. It’s difficult to see how a person reaches such a different conclusion on the direction of this country, but then, that person and I stand on the same soil and travel the same crowded highways. And so, I am praying for patience and calm as the days unfold. O God, though I may disagree with those around me, help me to listen more carefully before jumping to conclusions or letting anger cloud my thinking. And when I find myself disagreeing with another person, help me to be still.