One of my favorite books is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. There are so many ways to interpret the story and, through the years, many motion pictures have done so. The familiar story is of a young Alice who stumbles into a magical place where things look familiar and, yet, not the same. Through this adventure, Alice will meet different characters and make friends along the way in a place where, despite the beauty and the suspense, there are many choices to make. These past few weeks, I could not help to wonder if I had stumbled upon a world that reflects Alice’s experience. In a world of smoke and mirrors with ever constant change, let us come together in the new journey that awaits.
There are many things around us that have changed, and yet, they look the same. There are new promises of adventures, but I feel that danger awaits. There are people I thought I knew, but their speech and actions makes me think again. I see racism, misogyny, patriarchy, and hatred more often. They are like characters in a story that are slowly coming out. In this new world, they have been given permission to rise and wander free among us. I find myself wondering and refusing to accept that even in this world, this is how we make American great again.
Through my journey in this wonderland, I reach the Table of Grace, yet now more than ever, I see new obstacles in place. There are those who make the invitation to the gathering menacing for characters who are different like me. That is okay because we will stand on each other’s shoulders raising the welcome banner higher each day. We all come from different places, and we are going our different ways. Yet each year, we gather as progressive, like-minded individuals to recharge and rejuvenate. Now more than ever, we will need each other to share our knowledge, gifts, and stories before we go on our separate ways. Our young friends need ministers, prophets, writers, and artists to stand with them.
Our new world awaits with things that appear to be the same, but we know have clearly changed. Let us stand steady remembering we have bloggers, musicians, and activists ready to show our young friends there is hope in each day. When times get challenging, let us commit to stand together. From across our nation and together in spirit, we will march, we will sit, and we will stand, lighting candles and praying. We will eat together and break bread, inviting even those who might not understand what the big fuss is about. Our Commander in Chief might be eccentric, and his cabinet of key players might hold a history that threatens our differences, but my friends, seeking justice requires us to elevate our skills and our commitment to stand with the least of these. We must teach our young friends that the pen is stronger than any weapon and mightier in many ways.
In this new, colorful world, we must remember that we are people of hope and peace. Let us accept that we are survivors, prophets, and leaders and reject to act in a hateful way. Let us hold each other in prayer, united as a group of progressive youth ministers, sharing our research, our safe sanctuaries, and the safe places that will continue to create change. As we get acquainted with this new world, let us come together to help and inspire each other. In the end, it is important not to be distracted by the colorful world being painted before us. We are people of justice and faith, walking together with our God, regardless of what reality awaits. Alice in Wonderland says, “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
(Yadi Martinez is a workshop leader for PYM17. To learn more and get tickets, visit the PYM website.)