I just got back from what my spouse calls “Band Camp” — my annual long weekend with the almost 800 other lawyers, law professors, students and administrators who participate in the Association of American Law Schools’ Conference on Clinical Legal Education. The conference is always exhilarating and exhausting as we all simultaneously try to relax and be inspired to work harder. This year was no different. So I am home now, exhausted and exhilarated and also deeply sad.
The news of Comey’s firing came just as I got off the plane from Denver. I stopped dead in my tracks in the middle of the airport concourse, forcing my fellow travelers to veer suddenly off their own paths to avoid me — behavior I find absolutely unforgivable when others do it and I have to veer to avoid them. I simultaneously looked around for my people — the exhausted and exhilarated fellow resisters I had spent the last four days with — I needed to grab on to someone, something, to stop the spinning. But we have all dispersed now back to our own back yards to continue our own work here. So I had to find virtual hands to grab hold of.
I shared a dais with Professor Bill Quigley from Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans in a program called, “Building Our Collective Response and Vision of Social Justice in Tumultuous Times.” He closed the session with the following quote from Louisiana indigenous rights activist, Cherri Foytlin, adding the last line himself:
“Fear no evil. Joy and Love still live, and it is up to us to build the shelter for the Hope that they provide. Lower those pointed fingers, we will need them to grasp the hammer and forge the nails. Do not give in to your righteous anxieties. Our heroes have never left us. All the good that ever was, it is still here. You were born for this time. WE were born for this time.”
I grabbed hold of that with one hand. And with the other, a paraphrasing of Fredrick Buechner, shared with the members of a small working group I was part of, by Professor Jean Koh Peters from Yale Law School: Vocation is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger.
Part of my deep gladness is the work I do with all of you passionate, joyful, exhausted and exhilarated fellow resisters — from Band Camp and beyond. And I believe that the work we do together does in fact meet at least some of the world’s deep hunger.
I will write much more in the days and weeks ahead, and we all have to keep paying attention. But for now I am choosing not to give in to my righteous anxieties and instead to keep harboring the joy and love and goodness that bubbles up from all of us as we hold the hammers and forge the nails.