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Higher Ground


These days, bonding between family and friends seems more important than ever before. I tend to hurriedly run past the potential sometimes, but those everyday acts that support and encourage a sense of belonging and connection can carry such great benefits. I think it’s good to sit still and give them a moment of attention, to fortify us and bring us back to our strong base, reminding us of who we are, together. In doing so, we place ourselves on higher ground.

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Lately, I’ve felt undone as I listen to the news.  Have you?  Things are happening in politics in America, however strongly or subtly, that can be divisive and deeply unsettling. In the midst of all this, there is a proclivity to develop an “us against them” mentality. It’s even more tempting (and entirely understandable) to feel, when it comes to political stance, that we are right and they’re wrong. In the face of uncertainty and confusion, it’s perhaps the one thing you can hold onto: believing you have the answers.  In my view, we aren’t meant to have all the answers. Life is bigger than that. All we can do is have faith and strive to do our best.
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When it comes to politics, we educate ourselves, working to objectively figure out what’s right, what’s good, and what’s true and that’s just about the only method we can use to stay sane amidst the chaos we find ourselves in. But then, most of us don’t dare share those thoughts and concerns for fear of causing conflict with others. What a shame that in a time when matters of mighty grave importance are on the table, we find ourselves bound up in silence.
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Recently, I was discussing this with a friend who commented that it’s harder to have close friends these days, when your politics are not only different, but aggressively different. He said that when he hangs out with a few of his friends, several of whom sit on the opposite side of the political table from him, they never talk politics, since they all seem to acknowledge that they might not want to hang out if they expressed themselves. Politics and religion are topics we’ve always thought to avoid in some social settings, but imagine the stress we put ourselves through, trying to keep silent these days with such a large, persistent elephant in the room.
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Maybe now is a good time to regroup. Find some relief. I’m not minimizing the magnitude of the problems we are facing. I’m referring to finding respite through connecting in a way that transports us to a higher place. While singing today at the Easter service, I looked around at my family, then those around me, and thought of the rich diversity of thought and emotion going on in those heads.  How valuable it is that we can come together in agreement on the importance of the day, putting aside the rest of the world, if just for a moment.
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I recently attended a service held at the Jewish Temple in downtown Charleston. It was a meaningful ceremony to celebrate the naming of a child and her entry into the covenant of the Jewish people. Most evident was the love felt among family members as they spoke before the congregation about the matriarch of the family whose name was given to the child. Those outward proclamations and our prayerful responses as we read from the Siddur, served many purposes, one of which may not have been so obvious. It served to cement the bond between us all. We have in common a love for the family and their newest member and by our presence and our words, we were rejoicing in saying so.
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There are those good things that knit us together and there are actions large and small that can serve the bigger purpose of connecting us in love. That’s what I need right now and perhaps you’re finding that you need it, too. We can engage with each other in such a way that it causes all the things of daily life to fall to the wayside. We, together, can be lifted up and placed on higher ground.

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