Dear friends, family, and beloved community of change-makers,
As I write this final email of the year I am recovering from COVID. A fitting close to a ridiculously difficult year. Things have not gone as I had hoped and planned. I have experienced the heartbreaking loss of close family and loved ones, and I have continued to struggle to lay down some of the deep patterns of behavior that are no longer serving me. It has not been pretty, y’all, but it has been essential.
Recently I heard a teacher say – “thank goodness for suffering. Without it we would be sunk as a species.” I found myself nodding my head in agreement. Suffering has been ingrained in me, kind of like breathing. Came in early through my Catholic upbringing, and as I grappled with accountability and white guilt around racism over the years I doubled down on my commitment to sacrifice and suffering, as if that would be my atonement, as if that would liberate me. The more I learned, the quieter and more careful I became. And well, that hasn’t worked.
Today there is a growing place in me that understands that alongside the truth of suffering and what it activates in us, our true nature includes a well of joy, love and capacity for celebration.And at our core, a powerful yearning for connection, for belonging, to be of use to each other and this incredibly beautiful Earth. This is the part of who we are, who I am, that I want to water, nurture, and grow.
This month we lost bell hooks and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. These two wildly different leaders have deeply influenced me in my life and work over the years. Particularly their capacity to be fierce and uncompromising in the face of “imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy and patriarchy” (to use the phrase that rolled off bell’s tongue decades before that language was spoken on NPR, or even uttered aloud in white-led organizations), while also calling for a foundational, embodied practice of love. This it seems to me is the journey ahead – one of fierce commitment to justice and change, fueled by love.
This is no revelation, not news – but it bears repeating, remembering. Our actions can create a path toward a culture of belonging, and away from one fueled by our human conditioning and the need to create an us and them. We need to begin again, walk the path until it is well worn and easily found.
As we look to 2022, my longing, my prayer, is for each of us to experience an upwelling of joy, a deepening of care, love and connection. May we each without exception find healing in relationship with the natural world, our people, places and the beauty that is all around us. May we find the strength to call for accountability and repair, and to extend forgiveness and compassion to ourselves, our loved ones, and those who have harmed us.
No telling what lies ahead. Let’s keep loving each other through it. I am so grateful for all of us, this Earth, this day, this life. Thank you for being with us on this journey.
One step, one breath,
Ginny McGinn (she/her) is a mother, artist, and nonprofit leader.
Throughout her career, she has been deeply involved in the work of social and organizational change and in building partnerships across lines of power and privilege. Ginny has a profound interest in how change happens, from the level of individual transformation through the level of entire communities or systems, and it is this process of change that she seeks to continue to study and facilitate in her leadership at Whole Communities.