WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

The Muscle of Our Collective Spirit

By Aram Mitchell

A series of doors in a dark room, with one door opening to allow in bright light as a blurred human figure moves through

“My days are a thirsty atonal combination of the mundane and the apocalyptic.”
— Audre Lorde, in A Burst of Light: And Other Essays

I have a muscular intimacy with my bathroom door. What I mean is that when I close the door, I sort of fling it shut behind me as I walk in. I realized the other day that the amount that I push the door is fine-tuned to the precise amount of push needed for the door to latch without slamming.

If the window is open, the pressure in the room is different and the door shuts with much less push. I know this in my muscles: I know how to interact with the weight of the door, with the friction of the hinges, and with the pressure of the room. It’s an instinctual, muscular knowledge. (With regular visits to my bathroom, over time, I’ve gotten amazing at it.)

It’s comforting to experience this familiarity with my home and with what’s required of me, because most of the rest of life feels pretty off.

The weight of the world right now is not familiar. The pressure in the room is unprecedented; it’s hard to know what’s required. For many, the abundance of stillness and spaciousness is disorienting. There’s a new variety of overwhelm as, for some, the nature of work shifts and risks increase. Others are losing opportunities to work. The landscape of home life is terranova. And waves of uncertainty lap and recede, lap and recede, leaving blank the etchings of our plans previously drawn in the sand.

I don’t know how each of us ought to reorient to our new, shifting realities. But I’m confident in our human ability—our propensity, even—to gradually, day-by-day, together muscle our way into knowing… and being in… and renewing our world.

Confidence means "to be with faith." That’s what I’ve got right now: faith in the muscle of our collective spirit, and a sturdy hope that we’ll keep on figuring out how to put it to use.

As we cross the threshold of each new day, may we find strength in the confidence that we’re moving together. May we rest assured that yesterday’s unknown will be a little more familiar tomorrow. And may we remember that right now we just have to live today.