On the swearing in of a new president, how should we pray? When I was growing up on an Oregon farm, my hippie mom was one of the only parents I knew at our rural church who’d voted for Jimmy Carter instead of Ronald Reagan. That could have created a split, but we continued sitting in the same pews and singing the same songs as before the divisive 1980 election.
Mom didn’t sniff out which businesses had supported which candidate or pull us out of our church-supported school. She got up the same as every other morning, pulled on her rubber boots and went about the work that needed to be done, feeding our sheep and gathering the morning eggs.
Many faith leaders have shared wise words regarding the future of our nation and the hazards of becoming so polarized by our political convictions that we forget that our primary allegiance lies not to a 21st century president but to a first century carpenter.
Like many, I’m deeply concerned about the U.S. election and the future direction of our country. I’m also concerned about the needs of immigrants, minorities, and the multitudes here and around the world who lack adequate food, health care, housing and educational and economic opportunities. Rather than letting this election divide us, I pray that we will collectively pull on our boots and tackle the important work remaining to be done.
Many Christians wear the cross as a symbol of faith. While I frequently don this symbol of sacrificial love, the icon I most identify with is a coracle. Traditionally built of interwoven willow rods and covered with animal hide, this 16th century boat resembles a walnut shell.
Many nights on our farm, after penning the sheep and chickens, my mom sat with my older brother and me on our frayed gray couch and read from The Chronicles of Narnia. My favorite character was Reepicheep, the talking mouse. Though small of stature, he is valiant in heart. When sailing toward the end of the world in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the boat’s captain and crew cannot decide whether to go forward or back.
Reepicheep alone embraces this quest, declaring, “My own plans are made. While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Treader. When she fails me, I paddle east in my coracle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s Country, or shot over the edge of the world… I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.”
This week, I came across this favorite quote in a small binder of my mom’s writings. My eyes filled with tears, knowing she loved – and lived by – these words too.
Scripture declares that God has shown us what is good and what he requires of us, “To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God,” (Micah 6:8 ESV).
I pray that we will live out these words, no matter who is in office.
I pray that we will live them out no matter how the person voted in the pew beside us.
I pray that we will continue to work right where we are, sharing the life and the hope and the love we’ve been given.
Let us keep paddling east, nose toward the sunrise.
After all, great work remains to be done.
Meadow Rue Merrill writes and reflects on God’s presence in her everyday life from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine. Her memoir, Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, is available for pre-order.