The world today is feeling more upside down and safer, both at the same time.

My daughter came home last night. For the last 11 months, she has been serving with AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Core: they go anywhere, do anything that’s needed). She’s only been away eight of those months, because pandemic sent her home for three months during which she was being trained as a COVID-19 contact tracer. She was recalled by summer, and spent the rest of the year helping people.

During the graduation ceremony this week, her team leader talked about how a disparate group of people came together and stayed with it, through traumatic experiences, through disorganization. This 19-year-old kid was so obviously proud of his team and how they pulled together through awful uncertainty. Those moments of watching him talk about his team were quite poignant.

And now she’s home, locked in her bedroom in quarantine, because this is not a time to have to travel through three different airports across the country. And we don’t have good quarantine space, so she will live in her bedroom for five days until she can go be tested, using disinfecting wipes when she needs to leave to use a bathroom or get food from the kitchen. We’re eating with the dining room sliding glass door wide open, bundled up against the cold, with my daughter outside on the screen porch, windows open for cross ventilation, so we can talk to her, visit with her, begin to enjoy her company.

I don’t know if we will all manage to stay safe. Time will tell. We’re doing everything we can, given the situation. We wear masks in our own home now. We won’t be physically visiting with anyone, even in the back yard, until her test comes back negative. We are physically separating as much as our small house will allow.

So the world feels both better, because she is home, and more upside down, because this is no way to live – to not be able to cuddle with my daughter who’s been away for months, to have to wear masks at home for near a week. And so I’ve been thinking hard about resilience – that way of being that allows us to bounce back from uncertainty, injury, trauma, misfortune, or change.

Every two weeks, I meet with a group of religious educators who are studying Emergent Strategy by adrienne maree brown. This week, we studied resilience. The author’s conclusion – the antidote to the challenges to resilience – transformative justice. It felt transformative on its own, that chapter. She describes emergent strategy: it’s being intentional, decentralized, adaptive and interdependent, and urges us to transform conflicts and differences to be generative, rather than destructive.

And so, this week, I am pondering resiliency in my own life, in my own family. We are exploring how to be even more adaptive to a pandemic that has potentially been brought into our home, in a country fragmented by the pandemic, ugly politics, hatred, and fear. We are locked away from each other at a time when we most need each other, need to be held in love, need to feel safe. We are adapting our home rituals to counter the fear. We are being intentional as we walk around the house, wearing masks, washing hands even more frequently. We are building resiliency for our future.

Beloveds, how are you building your resiliency? The pandemic is not over, the ugly politics continue in a nation torn with strife. It’s important to keep building up our ability to cope with all of the change and uncertainty. How will you be intentional, adaptive, and generative in keeping yourself and your loved ones safe and resilient?

i am not afraid
of what I came here to do
i’m made of stardust
we are not afraid
of what we’re called now to do
we’re all made of god
~ adrienne maree brown


  1. Gail Thompson

    I looked out my front window one day and thought maybe my vision had gone crazy. The lawn was filled with dandelion blossoms…but some of them were moving. Then one of them flew.
    Watch for jumping dandelions in Spring. Goldfinches love those seeds and it makes the flowers look alive. How can something we try so hard to get rid of be so wonderful and magic. They too are made of God.

  2. Ray Donaldson

    When AmeriCorps was first created it was often informally called the Domestic Peace Corps. The Peace Corps is now evaluating its future in a post Covid-19 world.

    Kul Chandra Gautam, a Nepalese diplomat and former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF said the following at the “Peace Corps Connect to the Future Global Ideas Summit” in July 2020.

    “Our increasingly interconnected world demands global solidarity, not charity, to solve global problems that transcend national borders like the specter of war, terrorism, racism, climate change, and pandemics like COVID-19. I sincerely believe that the Peace Corps can be a great organization dedicated to promote such global solidarity at the people-to-people level.”

    The people of the United States need to come together in common purpose to enable all life within the world to thrive.

    • Robin Slaw (Author)

      Thanks for this, Ray. From what I observed, AmeriCorps does the same thing domestically. It’s important work.

  3. Linda Linton

    Robin – Thanks for sharing your personal reflections on the process of “growing” resiliency. Reading of the love that you and your daughters use to guide and motivate your decisions was moving and empowering. We have choices for how we do this important work. Thank you, Linda

  4. Kathy Parker

    Thank you for sharing your story, Robin. I think Americorps is such a wonderful organization, and I applaud your daughter for committing herself to it during this time. Your story reminds me of how much more complicated (and risky) the pandemic has made this work — and in so many other aspects of our lives. We have had to become resilient, as you say, and for now, that effort must continue. I will be thinking of you and your family as you work out the adaptations that have helped you be resilient in this time. Thank you, Kathy

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *