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Reflecting on the darkness, transformation, and hope of 2020

Sarah Jawaid, Co-Director

This has been quite a year. A year of extremes of sorts. I feel grateful to be approaching December: a time of rest, reverence and wintering with new awareness and humility. I’m looking back to what the year has given us in the wake of a global pandemic, uprisings, and personal losses. The moments of grief were heavy and the moments of joys were filled with transformation.

There were also a lot of moments of nothingness, perhaps staring at the wall or mindlessly driving to the grocery store with masks. Or perhaps it felt like nothingness. And yet, my mind, body and spirit were doing so much. So much holding; making sense of so much. I’m grateful to the medicine of the ants that circle my garden, reminding me daily of tenacity, the power of smallness, and the diligent rigor of consistently showing up. I’m grateful for the beloveds in my life for living, for seeing, for being open to how life force is moving through all of us.

I invite us all to consider our desire to feel sacred, to know it, to embody it. What is your sacred knowing teaching you?

Damon Azali-Rojas, Co-Director

Watershed (noun) : an event or period marking a turning point in a course of action of state of affairs. A crucial dividing point or historic moment.

I don’t hate 2020. 2020 was a result of the world’s long and nefarious affair with wealth accumulation. That didn’t start in 2020. Heck, it didn’t even start in 1492. 2020 just sharpened the contradictions of racialized capitalism (and its homies) and, at the same time, watered the seeds of our liberation.

There were so many victories in 2020. One of those is a stronger and deeper set of movement relationships-between individuals, organizations and sectors. These strengthened interdependent relationships have allowed for more nimbleness and effectiveness. Another gain was the question put to white people: Are you anti-racist? Or are you perpetuating white supremacy and settler colonialism by your inaction and fragility?

Ejeris Dixon, who is a brilliant abolitionist strategist (and friend of mine) said to me… “I can picture myself 15 years before the abolition of slavery in the US, just as clearly as I can see myself now 15 years before the abolition of the police/prison state.”

In that vein, I want to invite you to do something that will carry you forward over this next decade and a half: create a motto, mantra or principle to live by. Have that principle be a truth that is sacred and resonant to you and can be used to guide your actions, make difficult decisions and help you decide with who and with what you will spend your time with over these next 1, 2, …15 years.

You become what you say you will be so become a prayer for liberation.

Afrose Ahmed, Senior Program and Development Manager

As we approach the longest night, I am grateful for the darkness that invites us to look inward. I am grateful for this precious world to walk with each one of you. Though I know we have all experienced dark moments this year and every year of our lives, it occurs to me that Love is a seed that gives birth in the dark. That love sometimes needs to be burned, drowned, fermented, smothered, suffocated, to become something more than itself.

This year, my Love looked like shouting “Black Lives Matter” on the streets of my racist, ruralish hometown. This year, my Love looked like saying No. This year, my Love looked like ripping up certain roots of dead and dying trees, and planting new starts. This year my Love looked like no longer being able to split off parts of myself- not my anti-white supremacy and anti-capitalist politics, not the part of me that is a poet, not the part of me that sees clearly and speaks loudly. This year, my Love looked like staying still.

Rachelle Robley, Program Specialist

I have felt most grateful for my cultural values that helped me experience the events of this year with a greater sense of responsibility and compassion. Amidst the tragedy, death and disappointment that have come, I have also felt an elevated sense of collective consciousness. More check-ins with neighbors, more patience for scattered thoughts, more openness to creativity and resourcefulness, more kindness toward mistakes, more curiosity about how coworkers and loved ones are feeling. These graceful moments of humanity have sharpened the focus of my lens with hope. I am looking to 2021 with deeper intentions and bigger dreams for what will come of our resilience.

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