Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Spring Regenerative Gift for Us All: Their Time, and Even a Slice of Their Lives

[Cross-posted at]

Shades of gray pencil window-shade upon ceiling, lines almost beckoning us out into the afternoon's light. This beautiful spring week, some among us celebrate rebirth and others gather in traditional Seder. In churches, synagogues, meeting halls, and homes we gather. In faith, renewal and forgiveness, we bring various faith-gifts to each other, and to our communities. And then we reflect the newness of the earth, red bud brand new, billowy decorative pear, and the slightly arching daffodils.

In this most earnest opening of spiritual spring, it is not sacrilegious, I think, to write of the challenge of transforming our yearning for renewal into a living testament, the stuff of more, or mere, mortal concern. How best do we of so many faiths transform a state and national agenda into something meaningful for all? How do we go about honoring the many, but not losing the few? Life and death issues surround us, seeming surreal some times, real-life dilemmas, such as unemployment, bridging health insurance, feeding more of our hungry-even saving lives. In many ways, it is spiritual work. But it is done in the secular world. And questions arise. Is it the spiritual thing, the stuff that religious mores are built upon, for example, to decline Virginia's share of the "stimulus bill" just to make a statement (or at least mostly to). Is that justifiable in any faith? Surely in the out years, after all, solutions could be found to cover the need when federal funding stops, or, hopefully, the recession's need does at the same time.

We are lucky here in Virginia to have three men (no women this time) who, in their run for governor, think Virginia can do much better than that --that being the way the House of Delegates, or rather its partisan leaders, managed to put the needs of the poor and unemployed squarely last. No hint of rebirth or renewal there. More than one faith celebrates this week the importance of forgiveness. How to forgive such willful neglect?

Can we build it by seeing misguided people for the humans that they are? We can do this while not excusing such neglect. Is that enough? Or is more, much more demanded of us? Those who spend time in political action see it as the most earnest translation of their ideals. And in such action, we have a way. Again, I mean no sacrilege to say that government sunlight, open votes, transparency (instead of no roll call when it's convenient) would bring renewal to our Capitol. It would be a perfect gift for such a season.

As I said, on our side of the aisle, there are three very different men with their earnest and passionate supporters. I've been thinking about the fact that each of them brings to the public arena such a profound gift. And so I have to ask: Is it fitting that we quibble with or challenge their earnestness? Would we wish ourselves to be so challenged? Most of us probably know whom we will vote for. And yet I think we'll all be well served if we focus on all the candidates' collective gifts to each of us. In addition to the obvious (time, money, sacrifice), they also have their unique voices, experiences, and even positions (some of those may not always seem like gifts :-). But they are usually formed by a lot of individual wrestling with pros and cons, and with the views of constituents not far behind. We may become unhappy with one or the other of them in coming weeks or months. I hope we can forgive their differences of opinion or even their human failings. There are people to be served, helped, and restored, after all. Our mission of reaching outside ourselves to build a more caring commonwealth is more important than any personal disappointment.

I plan to honor the gifts of each of these men (as well as those by the men and woman among the AG and LG candidates) to us, not by asking no questions. Failing to determine where they stand isn't the answer. Indeed, we owe our fellow citizens as much. Rather, I'd like to thank each of them for:

• running;
• their sacrifice;
• their energy;
• their intellects;
• their resumes of public service;
• their unique experiences and perspectives;
• discussing the role of governor of our great Commonwealth,
• for challenging a misguided, regressive notion of government that must be challenged;
• and for advancing progressive ideals.

The citizens of Virginia are depending on them--and us. And the clear light of spring invites us all to begin.