What if our dreams are not dead?

By Rev. Anna Blaedel

by Rebecca Baggett

for my daughters

I want to tell you
that the world is still beautiful.
I tell you that despite
children raped on city streets,
shot down in school rooms,
despite the slow poisons seeping
from old and hidden sins
into our air, soil, water,
despite the thinning film
that encloses our aching world.
Despite my own terror and despair.

I want you to look again and again,
to recognize the tender grasses,
curled like a baby’s fine hairs
around your fingers, as a recurring
miracle, to see that the river rocks
shine like God, that the crisp
voices of the orange and gold
October leaves are laughing at death.
I want you to look beneath
the grass, to note
the fragile hieroglyphs
of ant, snail, beetle. I want
you to understand that you are
no more and no less necessary
than the brown recluse, the ruby-
throated hummingbird, the humpback
whale, the profligate mimosa.

I want to say, like Neruda,
that I am waiting for
“a great and common tenderness,”
that I still believe
we are capable of attention,
that anyone who notices the world
must want to save it.

Here we are, beloveds. Inhabiting this thin space, this threshold season. Days are shortening, nights are stretching. Darkness is enveloping more and more of our hours, for the next few cycles of the moon. In my part of Iowa, the first real snowstorm of the season has come and gone, and the landscape has been transformed to mostly greyscale: dark, bare branches blanketed by dustings of white. Life depends on deep roots, to survive the coming season.

Meanwhile, 1,800 miles southwest of here, a caravan of asylum seekers are facing weaponized tactics of war, not the welcome this nation proclaims as its dream. Children and women and young people and parents, desperate for safety, a place to breathe free, asphyxiating from the teargas unleashed by the US military, and militarized border agents. Meanwhile, 2,000 miles west of here, catastrophic fires have just begun to be contained; the losses are unfathomable—destruction and death, whole communities and ecosystems reduced to smoke and ash, beloveds still missing, haunting remains remaining—and the changing climate will only intensify in the seasons to come. Meanwhile, 7,700 miles southeast of here, more teargas and bombs are destroying the Yemeni people, manufactured and sent by the US in exchange for Saudi oil. An entire generation is learning that we are willing to sacrifice their lives and freedom for profit and convenience.

“In our tears and agony, we hold our children close and confront the truth: the future is dark,” writes Revolutionary Love Project founder, Valarie Kuar. “But my faith dares me to ask: what if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb but the darkness of the womb?”

Our faith dares us to ask: What if our dreams are not dead, but gestating, waiting to be born?

In 1970, Native Americans 1,400 miles northeast of here organized a witness, calling the fourth Thursday of November a National Day of Mourning, to honor Native ancestors, and the ongoing struggle of Native peoples to survive today. Remember, they implored, that every inch of land claimed by settlers, was already Native land. Remember, they implored, the borders you insist on securing are arbitrary and absurd. Remember, they implored, that massacres laid the groundwork for a day that has become about gratitude, feasting, and giving thanks. Remember, they implored, we are still writing the story and we cannot erase these losses but we can write the rest of the story otherwise. The violent legacies that stretch behind us for generations will take generations to undo, absolve, and rewrite. The world is still beautiful, in spite of the terrors and losses.

What if our dreams are not dead, but gestating, waiting to be born?

For those of us marking the Christian liturgical calendar, Advent will begin in a few days. Advent is a season of longing. Expectant waiting. Pregnant preparation for dreams gestating in darkness. Daring to envision im/possible realities:  Like political policies and economic systems and ecclesial practices and ecological habits marked by a great and common tenderness, rather than insatiable profit, power, and greed. Like insisting that tear gassing children and those seeking refuge is an act of evil, waging war against God, and should never be justified, whether at the US/Mexico border, or Standing Rock, or in Palestine, Yemen, or Ferguson. Like noting the fragile hieroglyphs of kindness, tenderness, softness, and courage etched in invitations and opportunities throughout the day. Like investing in resources that nourish rather than deplete, that tend rather than take, that hold rather than grab, that create rather than destroy. Like Divinity, made more palpable in the world by taking on vulnerable, human flesh, and reminding us that all vulnerable, human flesh carries the mark of the Divine.

What if our dreams are not dead, but gestating, waiting to be born?

I, too, am waiting for “a great and common tenderness.”
Things are not as they should be.
Things are not as they could be.
This world—so much of our making—leaves so much to be longed for.
Dear ones: do not let your dreams die.
There is still so much beauty in the world. There is still so much that is possible.
And so many of us still believe we are capable of attention, of tending, of tenderness, of laboring together to birth a world marked by Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love, enfleshed.

Breathe deep, dear ones. Keep mourning. Keep moaning. Keep searching. Keep resisting. Keep tapping into nourishing roots that run deep. Keep dreaming. Keep longing. This labor is long. Our dreams are not dead, but gestating, waiting to be born…

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rev anna blaedel

By Rev. Anna Blaedel

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