Trusting these patterns to echo

By Elle Dowd

I spend a lot of time dwelling in my hopes for the world-as-it-could-be. My thoughts are full of poetic overtures and grand romantic gestures – not for the sake of a lover (in the traditional sense), but for all of humanity. I am hungry to create, to build, to connect. I think a lot of us are.

I see the future in splendid, sweeping strokes. I’m a dreamer. Sometimes my thoughts zoom out so far that I get lost floating around in the universe of my own imagination. And the longing I feel to cultivate all of these visions into something useful and fruitful drives me to meet and love and bring together more and more people. My circle of friends and neighbors and acquaintances and comrades and partners is wide. My world is big. I like it that way.

It has never been hard in my mind to see the threads of the cosmos present in these connections. For me, the divine is reflected in these communities we form and in the uprooting and planting we do together as we construct new worlds and new ways of being.

And yet this past year and a half has been different for me. In the midst of lock-downs and pandemic restrictions, my world seems smaller. My ambitions have shrunk, too. Not in meaning, but in scope. I am learning more about the ways of simple things, intimate things.

During this time, I am discovering more about the importance of showing up in quiet ways close to home. And I am learning that as adrienne maree brown writes, “How we are at the small scale is how we are at the large scale. The patterns of the universe repeat at scale..what we practice at a small scale can reverberate to the largest scale.”

More time at home has revealed opportunities to practice resilience and tenderness and playfulness with those closest to me. I am baking a birthday cake for my elderly Chihuahua with my 2 year old nephew. I am leaning into my teenager as she rests her head on my shoulder on the couch. I am breathing deeply and feeling the sun on my skin and nodding at my neighbors on my morning walk. And when I am practicing these things, I am practicing liberation in small ways. I trust that they echo on the cosmic level to tear down destructive systems by building up love in everyday moments in ways that might be less grandiose but no less revolutionary.

Elle Dowd (she/her/hers) is a bi-furious recent graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, a current PhD student at the Chicago Theological Seminary, the campus minister of South Loop Campus Ministry and a candidate for ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Elle has pieces of her heart in Sierra Leone, where her two children were born, and in St. Louis where she learned from the radical, queer, Black leadership during the Ferguson Uprising.

She was formerly a co-conspirator with the movement to #decolonizeLutheranism and currently serves as a board member of the Euro-Descent Lutheran Association for Racial Justice, does community organizing in her city as a board member of SOUL, serves on the Clergy Advocacy Board for Planned Parenthood, writes regularly as part of the vision team for the Disrupt Worship Project, and facilitates workshops in both secular conferences and Christian spaces. She published a book with Broadleaf, Baptized in Teargas, about her conversion from a white moderate to an abolitionist. It is available now in print, e-book, or audiobook.

To get in touch with Elle and to keep up with updates,  you can visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter.

You can also see her online ministry via
or follow her on Twitter/SnapChat/Insta @hownowbrowndowd
or on TikTok @elledowdministry
And order her book Baptized in Teargas: From White Moderate to Abolitionist here:
Or download the audiobook here.

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