Gathering at the Table in a Post-Election World
In about a week, people all over our country will be gathered around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving.
With the exception of a few people who may have had life-altering experiences, the people you will gather with this year are exactly the same as they were when you gathered last year… and the year before that…and for as long as you can remember. Except that this year you know. They voted for Trump.
How do you sit down at the table with people you feel have turned their backs on your disabled child? With people who have ushered in an administration that you believe will prove dangerous to your best friend, who happens to be Muslim? How do you break bread and give thanks with people who have helped to create a situation that frightens you–if not for yourself, then for your black, brown and LGBTQ sisters and brothers?
It’s a tough one. And I’m certainly not advocating that anyone gather at a table with people who make you feel unsafe. But for most of us, Thanksgiving means great-aunt Margie who used to make popcorn balls every Halloween and Uncle Frank who tells really bad jokes and at least one cousin who recently got out of jail or rehab. Not dangerous people, but nonetheless, people who have wounded you.
So what do you do?
You love them.
You don’t have to approve of them or agree with them or even like them, but you love them. It’s not your Trump-voting relatives who have changed. It’s your knowledge and opinion of them that has been altered. So has your love been conditional all along–dependent on them living up to certain standards you have for the people you will continue to love?
Christians are called by Jesus to “love one another as I have loved you.” The Greek word used in that passage is agape–which means an unconditional love, like the kind of love God has for us. That doesn’t mean giving people a pass on unacceptable behavior, but it does mean that your love for them is not dependent on their actions or even their love for you. It’s a hardcore, badass kind of love that is not for wimps.
There will be times when standing up and shouting out will be needed and necessary in order to bring about change and to ensure justice for all. But Thanksgiving need not be one of those times.
I invite us all to use our turkey time this year to wield love wildly around the table. We all know that hate only begets more hate and that the only thing that has a snowballs chance in beating back hate is love.
May you and yours be grateful for the abundance of blessings in your life this Thanksgiving.