How often do we truly feel seen by others? A part of a community that will hold us in the good times and the bad? I have been reflecting on how rare that feeling has been for me - of true love and acceptance from a community.
Now, if you don't know me well, you might be wondering why I am writing about Rosh Hashanah. If you do know me well, then you know that my mom is Jewish. That I am Jewish. I am not religious and never have been. Still, a lot of Jewish holidays and traditions are meaningful to me. I grew up with them and they hold feelings of love and family for me. I am what you would call a "high holiday Jew." And even that's being a little generous. Past experiences of exclusion have left me feeling quite distanced from the Jewish community. That...
One of my arms is a lot longer than the other. It's not visible though. You won't see me fidgeting and pulling my green-knit sweater sleeve so that it covers the wrist of my long arm. It doesn't drag down to my knees. It doesn't get in the way or help me to reach the things that my other arm can't get to. It's not even something that I noticed until recently. My long arm is long because it has been reaching back back back to 10 years ago. 12. Maybe even 20. My time-traveling arm has been stretched from holding onto the past.
Someone who I hardly know gave me a present last month. It is one that I will never forget.
We give presents for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, wedding showers, just-born-babies, and new homes. We even leave money under pillows for little ones for their lost teeth. But very rarely do we give gifts to thank those who really dedicate their lives to bringing about positive change for our world. Maybe we don't because we wouldn't know what to give them...I mean, what do activists need? Great cardstock for making signage at the next protest? Sharp business suits for networking meetings? Books and books on revolution? Blog space? :) Donations to their favorite organization?
This is silly to even think about because activists are probably not doing the work they do for presents. :) I surely don't do the work that I do to get thanks or praise. I do what I do out of a feeling of responsibility and a passion for the issues. I envision a world that looks very different than the one in which we are currently living, and that inspires me to work for change. That said, sometimes it gets tough. Just like the work of teachers and other social service workers, the work of activists is mostly thankless. But that's what makes the kind words of one person that much more impactful. I was recently given the best present an activist could ever hope to receive.