Catalyzing, Not Culminating


catalyzingOn this Inauguration Day I have been putting the final touches on my sign that I will carry in the Women’s March in Raleigh, NC tomorrow. It reads, “Love not hate will make America great.”

Though I’m regularly in DC, sometimes several times a month, I deliberately chose to stay home and participate in the local march because I firmly believe that the key to creating a more just, compassionate world is organizing in our local communities.

I say this as someone who has worked predominantly at the national level on issues like paid family leave, maternal health, and access to comprehensive reproductive health care. This focus on the national scene has meant I’ve had little involvement in my home state. We all have to make decisions about how and where we will spend our limited time and energy. But at this moment I feel strongly that I am called to serve and advocate alongside those closest (physically) to me.

Since November I have been in constant prayer for wisdom and discernment of where I am meant to be in this era of Trump. With so many causes pulling at all of us to step up, I have felt overwhelmed. But in the quiet and stillness the phrase that has emerged for me as a guiding value is catalyzing, not culminating.

What do I mean by that? Culminating moments are actions and events that are complete in and of themselves. They may require a lot of preparation, but little attention is paid to the follow-up and next steps. I have been involved–and directed–such activities, whether it was checking off a box for a funder or my own internal box of “things that make me feel good.” They do little to move us forward in the our mission for justice. They are often ego-driven.

On the other hand catalyzing moments are actions and events that spark us onward to the next action we will take together. They bring in new people who are searching for opportunities to be connected with our movements for justice. They are based in deep relationships in which each person is asked to share unique gifts and to value the expertise of others.  At the center of a catalyzing moment is the commitment to the mission.

My prayer for the march in Raleigh–and for the marches and actions and events everywhere this weekend–is that they would catalyze us, ignite us, energize us for the marathon ahead of us. May it be so.

Encountering Spirit: A Ritual of Blessing for an Abortion Clinic

Photo Credit: Helen Parshall

For the last year I have had the honor of serving as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). This leadership role often requires great personal and professional sacrifices and yet blesses me tenfold in return. At this moment in history I can think of no more important organization to offer my time and gifts than on behalf of RCRC.

Last week RCRC partnered with Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington (PPMW) to hold an Interfaith Unity Ceremony to honor their brand new health center in southeast D.C. I had the privilege of joining more than sixty clergy, justice leaders, and clinic staff as were led by the Reverend Doctors Dennis and Christine Wiley, co-pastors of the Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ, through an interfaith service of blessing. There was drumming from the all female percussion band Balatá, testimonies from providers and patients, poetry, liturgical dance, a Hindu chant, and a ritual of healing from the shame and stigma surrounding abortion.

Read the rest of my post at Feminism and Religion.