Before We Go Forward, A Look Back

To all the Black and Brown folks, to the Indigenous Peoples, to the marginalized and overlooked, to those whose struggles are unseen, to you, my brother, my sister, who have reached deep into the wells of strength, courage, and hope you did not know you even had: I see you, I love you, and your ancestors see and love you too.

Isaiah 61:1–3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion —
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
or the display of his splendor.

My grandmother, Willie, had a saying she reminded me of whenever I was in a pickle. She said, “Baby, you got to take what you got and make what you want.” To me, it’s a folksy way of saying when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It’s also a translation of the Divine promise of God, the beauty-for-ashes exchange.

I’m so proud of how many of us have risen above the challenges we’ve faced this year. Collectively, we have marched against racial injustice; we have rallied our hopes in the face of great despair; we have reached across airwaves to support one another in grief, certainly, but also in celebration. We have made our voices heard, we have made our votes count, and our dreams have been made manifest under the most difficult of circumstances.

By John Lucia

Some of us, like me, have harkened back to the beginnings of our faiths, with our hands in the dirt, eyes to the stars, dancing wildly among the trees, like our great-great-great-grandmothers and grandfathers before us. We’ve called upon ancient ones and have made our way back to what was originally ours to find power and solace there. We have, indeed, remembered the faith of our Fathers.

It’s what we do. It’s who we are. It’s who our ancestors were before us. It’s our destiny realized, more and more each day.

As we close out this most exceptional year, let’s take the time to remember it in its entirety, and let’s give thanks for how we have persevered in spite of it and for how we have given honor to our ancestors and the dreams they had for us.

Take what you got, make what you want.

I don’t know about you, but I want a better world for myself and my family, for you and your family, for all of us. Let’s create it together–for our children, and our children’s children, so that when we are ancestors, we will be remembered with love and admiration.

May whatever Gods we honor bless you and yours in the New Year to come. I love you.

Asé.

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Nicole Walters

Honestly, if it doesn’t point me in the direction of love, I don’t want it.