Concrete Tasks

Concrete Tasks

I have a friend who loves to polish silver. Silver jewelry. Silver candlesticks. Silver forks and knives and spoons. Meanwhile, I have beautiful pieces of silver – serving utensils, pitchers, platters – that were given to Graham and me as wedding gifts more than sixteen years ago and that remain unused and thoroughly tarnished because neither of us has any interest in maintaining their care.

But my friend would say, “I love the satisfaction of polishing a piece. It starts out tarnished, and when you’re done, it is beautiful and shining. A concrete task, with a visible and quantifiable result.” And I realize that’s part of why I love the task of washing and folding laundry – it’s tidy and concrete and done when it’s done. (Momentarily, of course.) I’m not sure I’ll ever enjoy polishing silver, though.

I thought of this need for embodied, concrete tasks again this week as I had a conversation with someone about UUCC’s response to the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. She remembered that we participated in the nationwide (worldwide?) effort to show support by making paper snowflakes to cover the walls of the school. “I was so glad to have something to do for them,” she said.

In the wake of senseless, heartbreaking, infuriating tragedy, many of us long for something concrete that we can do.

This time, perhaps you’d like to send a note of encouragement to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (5901 PINE ISLAND RD, PARKLAND FL 33076-2306).

Or support our local students who will participate in the National School Walkout on March 14. (“Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone on March 14, 2018 to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”)

Or participate in the March for Our Lives on March 24 in DC. (UUCC already has agreed to support some local high schoolers who are arranging buses for Howard County students to get there.)

Each of us responds personally and uniquely to tragedy. I often feel numb and thoughtful. Others are filled with weeping lamentation. Others rage. There is no single right way. But if you find yourself needing something to do, then do.

Yours in love,


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