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

This Mutual Struggle

By Tuli Patel

“It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.”
—Angela Y. Davis

Since Christmas, our washing machine has been burping, spitting, and generally coughing. We are often witness to puddles on the floor of the laundry space. All four of usranging in age from early fifties to a young teenagerdrop to our knees, in supposed supplication, but mostly to shine a flashlight on the innards of this device.

Audio of "This Mutual Struggle"

Listen to Tuli read her reflection.

We are not always together when we come upon the shining pools of mirrored light. We might have been trying to find a lost sock or a clean set of underpants when we came upon the flooding waters. A loud shout summons the others, and we appear from the corners we had retreated tomid-call, mid-document, mid-thoughtgathering as one body to contemplate the steadily expanding morass. Sometimes a plumber joins us and we put on our masks, shooing the others away until only one of us shares the same air. Later, perhaps over a hastily assembled meal, we report on what we were told by the expert.

A scattering of hardware--nuts, bolts, screws, and washers--on a surface, and some of them clustering around a large circular magnet.

The regurgitation persists. There is no easy, obvious solution.

A year since physical distancing began, we find ourselves thrown together in a cramped laundry space: a shared purpose, a common problem, bringing us hip to hip and shoulder to shoulder with a stranger.

My mind spirals: It’s not so bad. We can always hand wash. At least we have power. Can you imagine what Hurricane Katrina was like? There’s food in the fridge. Will there be mold in our walls now?

I still my mind. Staring at the heads of my beloveds, bowing low to the ground, I pull on the faint cooing of gratitude and whispers of hope before they dissipate into silence: for this mutual struggle, for the collective witness to the spreading pool of damp, for the wisdom of crowds, for the warmth of these bodies that house precious souls, for the hope of a solution. I recommit to being present to those who do not have such proximate presences.


Spirit of abundance, may we be with one another in solidarity and struggle. May the presence of one another, across oceans of separation, allow hope and optimism to rise.

About the Author

Tuli Patel

Dr. Tuli Patel is the Executive Director as well as the lead for the Lifespan Ministry team at Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit, NJ. She also volunteers as Treasurer of LREDA. Tuli enjoys reading and writing and spending time with her family.


For more information contact .