Love is Gracious

By Rabbi Stephanie Kolin

November 8th is looming. No doubt, we all feel it. We feel the tension of it through our whole bodies. What decision will our country make? Who will we be once all the votes are counted? How will we look at our neighbor who may be celebrating while we weep? Who may be terrified while we breathe a deep sigh of relief? By the end of November 8th, there will be winners and losers, people who feel justice was done and people who feel the outcome is a mistake. People who look with hope to our future and people who feel our new president will make decisions that will hurt their family.

Who will we be by the end of November 8th? And, perhaps, more importantly, who will we be on November 9th? Deep rifts and traumas have been revealed in our country over the past many months – cracks that would be easy to cover over, ignore, and silence as the media cycle ends and the next chapter begins. People from different backgrounds look at each other suspiciously, blaming one another for the state of our country; women have come forth to talk about the ubiquitous pain of sexual assault and harassment; and words of hate have been allowed to enter mainstream discourse.

On November 9th, we will have a sacred chance to define our identity as a nation – either as one of bitterness and fear, or of compassion and love. Will we silence brave voices who have come forth? Will we shut out the ones who whose candidate does not win, let them wallow alone? Will we go back to pretending that everything is fine between us? Will we allow hate to stand? Or will we awaken to a new possibility in which love is at the center?

True love is not bitter or resentful, mocking or a sore-winner. True love is gracious. True love listens to another’s pain and anxiety. True love welcomes all into the fold. True love acknowledges that what is a win for one person, one family, one community, is a painful defeat to another. True love reaches out even when it is awkward or scary or vulnerable. True love is curious and compassionate and makes way for healing. Revolutionary love sees us all as repairers of the breach. November 8th is a defining moment for our country, but November 9th is a defining moment of our character for many generations to come. In the weeks ahead of us, will we choose graciousness? Will we choose healing? Will we choose compassion? Let us choose love.

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin is Associate Rabbi at Central Synagogue in New York City and is an Auburn Seminary Senior Fellow. You can find her bio here:http://www.centralsynagogue.org/about_us/our_clergy And read some of her sermons here: http://www.centralsynagogue.org/worship/sermons/author/kolin