From Exile to Hope: What little I can do

From Exile to Hope: What little I can do

March 02, 2023

What little I can do

By: Rev. Lee Roorda Schott

It’s my week to write this Exile to Hope post. My fellow writers and the Communications folks who send it out know I’m always later than I’m supposed to be in getting it sent off to them. I had two really good ideas for what I wanted to write this week. But priorities—good ones!—got in the way and here it is Wednesday already and I really must send something.
One of those priorities has to do with the bills being introduced in this session of the state legislature. My attention keeps getting pulled in that direction. I have had an urgent note—“Death Penalty Advocacy”—on my to-do list for the last week, and I still haven’t sent any e-mails or made any calls. 
(That’s advocating against the death penalty bill introduced two weeks ago, by the way, should any of you wonder. Our United Methodist Social Principles oppose the death penalty, saying (among other things) that it “denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore, and transform all human beings,” Before I knew or cared about what the church says, I opposed the death penalty  because of our nation’s inability to apply it without racial bias. Since that time, I worked inside the Iowa women’s prison for nine years[1] and came to know and love women who would most likely have been sentenced to death, had that penalty not been abolished in Iowa in 1965. My flesh recoils at the possibility that Iowa could again be in the business of executing human beings like these friends, many of whom are our sisters in Christ.)
Then the news yesterday was filled with stories of other bills that I oppose—most strikingly, one that would redefine marriage to ban gay marriage in Iowa.  And numerous others that relate to LGBTQIA+-affirming care, reproductive rights, and more. I read the news these days with dread and so much heaviness, for our state, and for people whose stories I know and whose faces I love.
And what can I do? Precious little, it seems to me. I can write some e-mails. I can show up at the Capitol and have some conversations with people who may or may not be willing to hear what I am saying. Will it be enough?
(I am mindful that the issues of concern to me may be quite different from the ones that feel heavy to you. I’m not trying to tell you what to care about. You can read this through whatever lens of “I wish I could do more” feels applicable to you. (Although, if you have a different opinion on the death penalty bill, I’d love to talk that through with you.))
It’s a little like being a pastor, or even just doing life as a human being. What little we can do feels, a lot of the time, like way too little. We cannot rescue our children (nor even ourselves)  from all risk, nor can we keep our congregations safe and harmonious and growing. Each voice lifted up against injustice or harm feels so small
It turns out that what I do, though, as little as it may seem, is not nothing. Whether it’s parenting or church or voting or community action, or even writing these words for you this morning: whatever little I can do counts.It’s in the nature of hope (the direction of this e-newsletter) that we don’t throw up our hands and say, I’m out. That would mean we’re defeated already. We keep showing up, anyway.[2]
I’d write more here, but I’ve got work to do. You do, too. Here’s where to find your legislators’ names and numbers.[3]

[1] I served as pastor for Women at the Well from 2011-2020. This congregation was established as a prison congregation in 2006. It’s one of the best things the Iowa UMC has ever done. (In my humble opinion.)
[2] I wrote about my discovery of this discipline, of “showing up,” in an earlier post in this series.
[3] Not sure how to speak up for your position on legislative matters? Here’s a very brief primer from Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, or you could reach out for support through the Iowa UM Conference’s Legislative Advocacy team. Or reach out to me, if all else fails.  
Subscribe to From Exile to Hope ?