A Peaceful Transfer of Power

shepard-equal-humanity-greaterthanfear“The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.”—President Ronald Reagan, from his First Inaugural Address.

“Nothing less than a miracle.” Somehow, the transfer of power from President Obama to President Trump seems like a miracle, for sure. I omitted the word ‘peaceful,’ though maybe inappropriately so. Since President Trump’s election and inauguration, it has felt to me like we are flirting with the limits of peacefulness in our country. Near constant demonstrations, marches, tweets, media storms, and congressional wrangling seem to be pushing boundaries on all sides. I am deeply grateful that the public outcry has – at least so far – stayed within the limits of civility. But the question persists – how is one to respond in a meaningful and powerful way in the face of a national government gone awry?

I have not posted on my blog for one year. At this time last year, the primary season was in full swing, and the ugliness, the bitterness, and the shocking display of incivility was on display. My own heart and soul were challenged each day by new revelations; new torments; new worries about what might happen should the current President – then a candidate among many – actually be elected.

On election night, I was awake into the wee hours of the morning (and those who know my usual proclivity for early bedtime will understand the meaning of my late hours on 11/8/16), and my shock turned to disbelief and then to horror. What have we done?

Two days later, a close friend told me about the Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for 1/21/17, and asked if I’d join her. It was an easy ‘yes.’ Along with one of my daughters, we traveled to DC, we marched, we reflected, and we continue to hold the question: how is one to respond in a meaningful and powerful way in the face of a national government gone awry?

Here’s what I’ve discovered. There has been a peaceful transfer of power within me. Until now, until this election and inauguration, I have been one who observed the workings of government with interest and even local involvement. But I had not – until now – felt compelled to march; or to call my congress leaders; or to reach out and reach out and reach out again to friends and colleagues to keep the energy and action and reflection going. Until now, I have not known with such deep conviction, that I have the responsibility to be ‘we, the people’ – with my actions, my words, my letters, my phone calls. And with my prayers, my compassion, my work, and my spiritual community.

Yes, a peaceful transfer of power has occurred within me. Thanks be to God.