It is Saturday morning, 9:30 a.m. and my Spirit Sister Sue, Beloved board member and program development collaborator, and I are walking ourselves into the Clarion Inn Conference Center in Frederick, Maryland. Our arms are loaded with fliers to hand out in the coming hours and tri-fold displays to set on our exhibit table.
The Volunteer Fair, hosted by FrederickCares.org has arranged this event. With the assistance of the hotel, the conference room sure looks scrumptious! White clothed tables, coffee, tea, donuts and so forth stand ready for a morning into early afternoon event. With every intention of creating an occasion to bring peace and social justice oriented non-profit organizations, like ours, together with anguished citizens. These are people, identified with heartfelt compassion by Andrew Duck and his volunteer team, who are pained by the state of our society and politics, hungering to put their angst into meaningful action.
With this as an agenda, our day ahead promises to be noteworthy. None of us have been called before for such as this.
To officially launch the day Congressman Jamie Raskin addresses the audience. When he does, I know I am in the midst of kindred spirits. His words reach my heart, my mind and my soul. And, I, like the others in attendance, am further rewarded when Congressman Raskin takes the time with event organizer, Andrew, to visit each of our display tables for a personable one-on-one. With representatives like this, a person can feel that someone in Congress is looking out for them.
Yet this is only the start of a wonderfully, inspiring day of connecting that lies ahead.
Throughout the hours ahead, Sue and I have ample opportunity for meaningful talks with attendees. I am struck by the anguish, the shock and confusion I see on faces around me; the hurt coming through their words. Still I am immensely grateful for our connections; many with substance. Attendees here seem to have moved beyond the superficial, often seen at gatherings such as this. But these are times like no other.
I am a bit disappointed that my three scheduled mini Coffee House Conversations never get off the ground. Perhaps next time organizers can arrange for a loud speaker to call people to gather for these. No matter. I make use of my time not presenting by moving throughout the convention hall, beginning new friendships with kindred spirits that may take root over time. We are, after all, in this time of crisis together. And, it looks like we are all going to need to hang tightly together in the coming weeks, months and even years, as we are truly facing a time like never before in the U.S.A.
The Volunteer Fair comes to its end with Sue and I packing up to depart. I look at her for a moment, catching a look on her face I have rarely seen. Her eyes sparkling, she leans into me with a sense of wonder, telling me, from a heart I know to be frightened and wounded, saying these words,
“Today I saw people “Finding Light in the Darkness.”
OMG! Had the day not already been full and inspiring I could not have asked for more, but there it is; the icing on the top of the cake! My best friend’s heart and soul are soothed by what we had just experienced in a few short hours. I can tell that her takeaway is that she is encouraged, as I try often to tell her to be these days.
WE, the American people, are going to be okay – by connecting and holding together with one another.
Devastated, heartbroken with much unhealed grief, my best friend, Spirit Sister, is soothed down deep into her soul, standing next to me at the Volunteer Fair.