After 40 years working with social change organizations, I retired and joined the US Peace Corps. From 2009 to 2011, I served in Konotop, Ukraine. Then in 2015 to 2016, I served in Skopje, Macedonia as a Organizational Development Specialist. Now I live in Washington, DC where I'm enjoying family and friends, creating art and volunteering for positive social change.
The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin
My friend, Darryl says, “Wanna check it out sometime?” He's been going to a
Unitarian Church on 16th
Street. It's a tall steeple one and got organized in 1821 when the
United States was still a young country.
We make arrangements for the Sunday following the election...on
a day when the nation is deeply divided.
stunned to see the place packed. It's not what you expect to see in
a church these days. Usually this place holds about 1500 people on
the main floor and wrap-a-round balcony. But on this particular
Sunday, it's bursting with about 2000.
more, I'm shocked to hear the minister's sermon...interrupted by a
standing ovation lasting several minutes. Never have I seen or heard
such a thing. It's unbelievable to see so many people roaring their
stirs such deep emotions is the minister's call for the
congregation to be true to its history.
best as I can recall he says, “We are people of sanctuary. We have
given support to gay and lesbian human right seekers, war resisters,
run-a-way slaves and more. For all of them, we were a place of
"Now there's coming a time when we may need to be preparing again...for immigrants, refugees, Native Americans, Muslims, people of color, trans-gendered people and others who are dispossessed.”
feel like I'm in the right place and glad to add my own applause to
few Sundays later the worship service is centered on hope. A Blues
singer belts out Leonard Cohen's marvelous song, Anthem.
song took ten years to write. There's not a line in it that I could
not defend. I delayed it's birth for so long because it wasn't right
or appropriate or true or it was too easy or ideas were too fast or
too fuss, but the way it is now, it deserves to be born.
stands for something clear and strong in my heart.
meaning in the chorus is the background of the whole record: 'Ring
the bells that still can ring.' It's
no excuse for this dismal situation...and the future is no excuse for
abdication of your own personal responsibilities toward yourself and
your job and your love.
the Bells that still can ring. They're
few and far between, but you can find them.
your perfect offering. That's a hang-up that you're
gonna to work this thing out. This situation does not admit to a
solution of perfection. This is not a place where you make things
perfection - your marriage, nor in your work, nor in your love of God,
nor in your love of family or country.
There's a crack in everything. The
thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that
you can put together – physical objects, mental objects,
constructions of any kind.
That's how the light gets in. But
that's where the light gets in, and that's where resurrection is and
that's where the return to repentance is...with the brokenness of
it's just me being in this place at this time, but the song brings
a lump to my throat. When I glance at the woman next to me tearing
up, I join her. I think our emotions come
from a sacred place.
time the sermon is not interrupted with cheers, but it's timely for
a nation divided and losing hope.
minister re-frames the quest for hope. He says that hope
is not like waiting for a
gift to be wrapped up with a bow and dropped in our laps. Rather hope
is active. It's something we give our
lives to each day and week, month and year. I'm thinking - to make
the nation a kinder, gentler and more just place to live one step at a time.
just like the Old Testament Prophet, Micah, urged so long ago –
“What does the Lord require, but to do justice, love kindness and
walk humbly with God.”
write this post in hopes that it might give you opportunities to think
After all, living is more than household projects, emails and deadlines. We
need encouragement from one another and a new vision of a nation
healing old fears, suspicions and hatreds.
we do what we can with what we have. And we create hope.