Darkness, Negative Infinity

“Darkness such that haunts my soul.
Desperate longing for an absent God
The torture and the pain I can’t explain
My heart cries.”

-the Liturgists

These lyrics were sounding through my headphones as I walked through the dining hall Tuesday afternoon. Several years ago, the Liturgists, an experimental art project spearheaded by Michael and Lisa Gungor, created a messy liturgy for Easter weekend. They featured songs with various well known artists, and the spoken word by popular authors and speakers Amena Brown, Rachel Held Evans, and Rob Bell.

This song, Teresa, was for Good Friday. It captures the emotions and experience of Good Friday very accurately. It captures a total loss of control, and it captures a death of a sort; the song captures a deep, spiritual death. The hellfire burns through the foundations of the soul and leave dark, lifeless, ashes. It captures the death of God.

It captures the cross.

What a year. What a week. What a few couple of days this has been. Last weekend, when I wrote about mustard seeds and my career, I experienced a harsh, draining tension as I saw the current course of our nation in the midst of what was a fairly pleasant weekend. And my heart wrenched. It still wrenches. It’s been wrenching. I have no doubts it may wrench in the immediate moments after writing these words. And as I press on forward, I find myself facing the dark nights in my own existence. I find myself at loss, longing.

I often catch myself living existence with a naïve optimism and yet I also find myself facing and embracing the dark nights. What an experience, those dark nights. What an experience it is to feel lyrics that Michael Gungor sings and live the words: “My heart cries.”

And yet, we must press on. All of us. I am well aware that as of late, my heart isn’t the only one shrouded in darkness.

Every human being is said to have a God-shaped hole in their hearts.

I see it more like there’s this pedestal sitting in a well lit room in the middle of a large building sitting in the ethereal plane of our hearts. And on this pedestal, we put many things. Sometimes, it’s people or a person, sometimes it’s money, or success, or fame, or politics. We put something there, and what we put there is not God, and so it doesn’t work apparently. And since the thing or person we put there is not God, it becomes destructive. Because, apparently nothing on that pedestal can fulfill that role like God. So, some of us put God there.

But this God we put there fails us. Or this person or thing we put there fails us. It all fails us. And in the midst of this, we face the flames. We walk through the hellfire. Our ethereal journey becomes stormy. We walk through the dark, stormy weather holding our umbrellas at an angle to shield the candlelight we carry from the wind and the water. And then the wind continues to pick up. And things continue to go wrong. The soul’s seasonal climate shifts from autumn to winter. We fight a losing battle for control.

And then it comes crashing down, we wrestle the angel in the dark valley of the dying sun, fighting to hold our objects on those pedestals, and we lose our sense of control. We grip onto reality and shield our lights from the storms until we hit a limit of despair.

Despair.

And then the candlelight we protect is blown out. We fall onto the floor defeated in the wrestling.

And it is at that limit, that moment, where the greatest fear of our soul lies: the fear of what happens when the parameters of our soul approach zero and when it is all let go.

And then it happens, the soul hits that limit. The parameters hit zero. We face it.

And then when we think it cannot fall any lower, it approaches an asymptote and continues to rapidly press lower past zero, becoming negative. Or at least it appears negative; the parameter’s absolute value increases. Negative numbers are negative based on a contextual reference point and the formulas the parameter is plugged into. If we change the context, perhaps it is not so negative after all.

And then we find that, without the candlelight, our eyes have become more accustomed to the darkness and we can see again, and we can see more than before, and the landscape is beautiful. We didn’t need to fight for control of our existence after all.

And the pedestal doesn’t hold the objects perhaps because it was never meant to hold any object. The pedestal, the room, the building, and the entire ethereal space is God. In losing the fight, in falling below the limits, we briefly see the face of God.

And in the midst of this death, we find hope again, and we find life. We can then relight our candle, and notice it’s warmth and let it shine as we continue walking through the storms, courageously knowing that if it is put out, we will see the beautiful landscape again, and we will be okay; the landscape around us is beautiful, and our light we carry is simply a part of the beauty and not the object that brings it. We can stand back up again.

And then we may find that spring follows winter, where we may have a sense, or even put our identity in, the ideas of the last song in that project, Garden, where Aaron Purdy sings

“‘Love’, you said
Poured out like wine
Broken like bread
Waken us
Enliven our minds
Unearth the dead.”

And this resurrection of a sort fuels a hope in us. These experiences force us into reality. We come alive.

And we can then embrace our existences and the empty pedestal and the experience of our travels in the stormy weather.

What a year. What a week. What a few couple of days this has been.

We can embrace this tension, and choose to find a hope in the midst of despair. We can find significance in the insignificant. Our acts matter on our Pale Blue Dot. Every action, shaping those around us, and shaping our world. The broken cycles can be resisted.

What a year, and what a week, and what a few couple of days this has been.

We can embrace the tension and keep working through it. Our hearts will keep beating. When the candle goes out, we press onward and we can reignite our light again sometime further on.

And we can face it all. May we choose to see the absolute value of negative infinity and may we press through the darkness.

Isolated Thoughts

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The Jesus of Palestine

At the United Methodist General Conference in Portland last summer, Bishop Abrahams preached a sermon titled “Go in the name of Jesus of Palestine rather than Jesus of Constantine”. This sermon has stayed with me ever since, and it was especially on my mind this week.

At the end of his first week in office, President Trump signed another executive order fulfilling another campaign promise – the  ban on Syrian refugees entering this country and additional pauses on immigration from seven Muslim majority nations.The executive order went into immediate effect.

When Bishop Abrahams spoke of the Jesus of Palestine, he was referring to the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of Palestine was radically hospitable, deeply concerned with those marginalized and forgotten by society and a persistent challenger of the status quo. The Jesus of Palestine spoke to the woman at the well,  welcomed the little children, healed the sick, ate with tax collectors and criticized the religious leaders who strictly maintained the social order. It is the Jesus of Palestine that we are called to follow.

Saturday, I read the executive order for myself. In it, the president orders that the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security make adjustments to ensure that “refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality” are prioritized (Section 5, subsection b). For me, this section of the order, and the statements applauding this particular measure, were the most unsettling parts of a deeply upsetting policy. In the days since, I tried to understand why this piece took my breath every time I read it. The best answer I have is that this feels like the Jesus of Constantine.

In his sermon, Bishop Abrahams cited the Council of Nicaea as a defining moment for the Church. In linking Christianity to the Roman Empire, Constantine “domesticated the Jesus of Palestine to identify with a particular culture of the day”, and “the church seduced by the political power endorsed the status quo.” Rather than earnestly bucking empire and caring for the weak, the Church became a part of the structure of the empire. Wars were waged in its name, and its power was used against the weak rather than to aid them. Unfortunately,” history is littered with examples of the church identifying with the Jesus of Constantine seeking to build its own empire”. Time and time again, the Church has chosen to align itself with the Jesus of Constantine, a decision that at its root betrays the life and example of Jesus Christ.

Section 5b of this Executive Order was issued in the name of Jesus of Constantine. As such, the entirety of the order challenges the Jesus of Palestine. It necessitates an evaluation of how we can live the parable of the good samaritan or adhere to Matthew 25:35. How do we view Jesus’ commandments to love your neighbor? It requires us to choose. It is likely that the coming years will continuously test our allegiance – that Christians will have to regularly determine whether they will stand with the Jesus of Constantine or the Jesus of Palestine. My prayer is that the Church will boldly and firmly preach the Jesus of Palestine, in this and every time.  That we will consistently and loudly proclaim a gospel that comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. That we not only preach about caring for the weak and vulnerable, but evaluate what that means in our own lives and then care for the weak and vulnerable. That we will lift our voices on behalf of those who do not have a seat at the table. That we will decline to blindly validate empire, that we will not allow ourselves to be used as a weapon against the marginalized. That we will search for the heart of Jesus and boldly proclaim it.

United Beginnings

Yesterday, marked the first day of my time as a Chapel Associate. The meeting with the other interns brought about many inventive ideas for the service organization Nick, Denise, and I will begin work on. One idea that I found to be inspiring was a possibility of working with other religious groups on campus within the new program.

I read President Brown’s letter to the Boston University community  last Sunday on the subway after a brunch with friends at Harvard Square. Coincidentally, the train filled with protestors going to Copley Square for the anti-immigrant ban protests as I continued through Brown’s statement. Similar to the signs the protestors held for the protest, the President’s message emphasized a culture that refused to discriminate by race, creed, or culture.

After speaking more with the fellow interns and Jen yesterday, I am starting to realize more the power of unity and I think an inter-religious service organization could be a powerful tool to unite the students of Boston University and reinforce President Brown’s message.

I look forward to starting this organization with Denise and Nick and I truly believe that we can create a wonderful program that encourages volunteers to use faith and love to impact both the BU community and Boston at large.

Granos de Mostaza

I was originally about to write a blog post about my dreams and goals. I was going to reflect on what I really truly genuinely wanted to do after college, and whether or not I felt happy in my degree program because that has been pressing on me more and more lately.

But, then I saw the news. I saw the executive orders and my eyes opened back to the world around me, and my viewpoint widened past what was immediate in my own life. My eyes focused onto the current state of our government, and then everything fell backwards. All of it came crashing down onto me like a massive, massive wave. Again, I noticed the implosions in my life and in the lives around me; I was not walking on sturdy ground.

How can one see this all and not feel afraid? The whitehouse.gov website spontaneously lost all of its pages on immigration, LGBT rights, civil rights, climate change, and healthcare. It’s been practically a week. One week. A single week. What happened? Should we not care about the hurt that so many minority communities are experiencing right now? When will enough be enough?

And the environment? Sure, I understand that our economy is important. The economy drives our nation, and with all of this new energy we could encourage so much growth, which would increase our GDP, and help our economy. And, if we improve our economy, that would help us all. I get that, I see the numbers.

But, that’s exactly it. I see the numbers. Climate data? What about those numbers? I don’t understand how we could ignore the data. What economy can survive in a dying environment? Is not many of our societal behaviors towards the various resources in our world projecting towards a Tragedy of the Commons? Don’t we need to change before the sinusoidal behaviors of nature become more sporadic, and then our environments become less suitable for our complex human societies, and then the need for change becomes forced? What about our grandchildren? What about their children? We can’t run on autopilot forever and assume it will all work out, believe me.

And then I see a post from my friend who goes to MIT, and how her sorority sister from Iran went home for winter break, and how she was recently denied access to her flight back to Boston, despite her student visa. How could this possibly be okay? She’s an active member of my friend’s sorority and a hardworking member of the MIT community. And beyond all of that, she’s a human being like you and I.

And then, there’s all of the language used surrounding immigrants from Latin America. All of last year, I had to listen to every statement made about Latin American immigrants. Actually, no. I had to spend years now listening to this. Ever since I was very young, I would often have to listen to the offensive sentiments towards people from South and Central America, and the jokes, and the sentiments from classmates, from friend’s parents, from teachers, and even from people who were apparently friends of mine. And, there’s this pressing feeling of, well, what made my family special enough to apparently become a part of this nation? My parents’ were not educated or super-special in any way when they got here; it is arguably chance that gave my parents and older siblings citizenship. Chance.

As I heard my friend’s father two summers ago continuously demonize immigrants and argue against their safety, I softly reminded him of my family’s Colombian origins, and pointed out to him that there is very little, if anything, that explicitly separates my family from that of other immigrants. I watched him feel uncomfortable, I saw the emotion pour into him for a brief moment as he realized his words were denying the humanity of large swaths of people, and his words were even slightly chipping away at my own humanity. Then, I saw his heart harden again, and off he returned to his rant about immigrants. Every inhuman, hateful word denying the humanity in the other, and when you deny the humanity in others, you deny the humanity in yourself.

I just do not understand these sentiments, and I especially do not understand how these sentiments could make their way to the top of our nation’s government. I do not understand.

I do not understand.

Something needs to be done.

We all need to play our parts, and we cannot forget the progress we have made. We cannot forget. Whether it’s letters, or rallies, or protests, or writings, or discussions, or any of the many other ways we can influence our society, we cannot forget, and we cannot stay inactive and run on autopilot. Our societal systems are human systems, and the functions that influence these systems depend on the individuals within. We all play a role in defining the variables and changing the parameters of these systems. All of us. Every little act, every little sentiment, every idea, every move and  every investment of time and energy changes not only the course of us ourselves as biological systems, but also our societal systems, even if it is ever so slightly. Every change, even if it is a small change, matters.

Because anyone who has ever seen a mustard seed is well aware that tiny things can become very large.

Beacons of Love

I have so many things that I want to say and yet at the same time I am having trouble finding the words. I am struggling to find words in the face of blatant xenophobia, hatred, fear, and ignorance. I am struggling to find words in a world in which it seems words and facts do not carry as much weight as feelings and opinions. I am struggling to find words in the face of actions that would deny the humanity and worth of the most vulnerable among us.

In history classes, I remember learning about America as a nation of immigrants—“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.” I also remember learning about isolationism and immigration quotas and the Know Nothing Party. It was the dark underside of our history but it was just that—history. But then came the moment when I realized that the things I read about in my history books—racism, xenophobia, war-mongering, discrimination—still existed in America today. I tried to push past them, choosing to believe that things would always get better, that we would learn from our history, that we would learn to love our neighbor. But I underestimated the power of fear. I forgot how easy it is to turn to hate and how hard it can be to love.

Last week, I was asked why, as a person of faith, I felt so strongly called to social justice work. The question caught me slightly off guard because the thought had not crossed my mind that you could be a person of faith and not feel compelled to work for social justice. Jesus’ whole ministry was one of calling people to love their neighbors, of raising up the vulnerable and forgotten, of speaking out against oppression and exploitation, of ministering to the marginalized, of practicing radical hospitality. Jesus says a lot of things in the bible, but one thing that comes up over and over and over again is the commandment to love our neighbors. This is the greatest commandment and I think it’s also the hardest. It’s one thing not to steal or commit murder but it’s another thing entirely to truly love the people around you. It is a radical act that seems especially crazy in our society of locked doors and careful anonymity. But it is what we are called to do. We are called to welcome the stranger, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the prisoner. We are called to welcome refugees, to embrace those of different religious and ethnic backgrounds, to recognize the humanity and value of everyone we encounter. And in times like these when people are stripped of their rights and deprived of their voices, we are called, in the words of Proverbs 31, to “speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

And we are speaking out. We are speaking out with donations to the ACLU and immigration advocacy groups, we are speaking out with protests and rallies, we are speaking out with letters to elected officials, we are speaking out with sermons and choral anthems, we are speaking out with prayers and offerings. We are speaking out as citizens of the United States but we are also speaking out as people of faith. Because we must be beacons of love amidst the swirling clouds of hate. We must be steadfast in our commitment to the same radical hospitality that Jesus showed throughout his ministry. We must be allies for those who are marginalized and discriminated against. We must be, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr, extremists for love, continually seeking the extension of justice.

Maybe, despite everything, our voices won’t be enough this time, maybe it will seem like love will never be able to break through so much hate and fear but we can never stop. Our call may not be easy but it is vital. And maybe one day, our history books will tell a story of love, a love that refused to be limited by geographical borders, unjust laws, or religious background, a love that outshone fear and overcame divisions, a love that was persistent and tenacious, a love that was all-encompassing and unyielding, a love that was radical and extreme, a love that brought justice rolling down like waters and washed away all traces of xenophobia, racism, hatred, and fear. Even if we struggle to find the words, even if we are tired, even if it is hard, we must speak out. We must answer the call. We must be beacons of love.

Different Shades

Once, during a neighborhood pick-up game of basketball, my friend said “You know everyone sees color differently, right?”.  I have no idea what the context of this was, but I remember nodding along, filing this random fact away in my brain and telling him to check up. I would think about it in passing  from time to time after that, never going deep.However, for the past couple of years I’ve begun to think that this innocent fun-fact might explain more than just disagreements on color.

Maybe it can help to explain how people move through this world. If every experience is filtered through sets of eyes that perceive so differently, is it any wonder that at times we struggle to agree on what we are looking at?

In my science class this semester we are discussing Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle”, which questions the ability to obtain objective knowledge, positing that objective observation isn’t possible. What a person observes is directly dependent on where they are in reference to the action. This holds, so far, for science and I think it is true for life in general.  Our perceptions of the world are colored by our experiences. While our perspectives on events will never line up entirely, the fact  that the event took place is undeniable. This reminds me of  the story of the blind men attempting to describe an elephant-each of them was correct. Their descriptions were more incomplete than wrong.

The common thread through Heisenberg’s principle, the story of the elephant and my friend’s fun-fact is that they necessitate the admission that we may not have all of the answers.Someone else’s perception of reality is no less valid than my own. How we view and engage the world is a product of our lived experiences, everything we see is filtered through that prism.

I don’t know why my neighbor felt that this random fun-fact needed to be shared in that exact moment, but I have heard that statement over and over again at various points in my life. It has become a layer to the glasses through which I interpret the world.

I think that now more than ever, it is important for us to recognize that we all wear these glasses, the lenses of which have been altered by our experiences. These glasses allow us to perceive parts of our environment clearly, but they also blur some things. When we elevate our point of view as the only point of view, or only choose to acknowledge facts that leave our current pair of glasses untouched, it can be a serious problem. However I think the fact that we all view events in slightly different shades is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. If we combine our varied viewpoints we may discover a much more complete picture of the world. A viewpoint grounded in the stability of facts and enriched by the beauty of millions of experiences, shades of the same colors,  coming together and intertwining to form a beautiful, more  complete mosaic.

Time Well Spent

And so it begins, the new semester. For a few weeks before class registration I was hoping that I would give myself a break and not overload myself. I guess I was sort of successful, I only have 18 credits so I am not technically overloading. However, extracurricular activities are filling in all of the gaps that I made for myself.

Over winter break I interviewed for an internship and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to start this semester. The internship is a little ways away; so, I have to get up bright and early  to arrive on time.

Factoring in my internship, this semester is a throwback to my first semester at Boston University, an 8am every single day –except Thursday.

I did it to myself. Again. However, this semester I have actually enjoyed being really busy. Yes, it means long nights. And yes it means getting up early. But, i feel like my days last a lot longer and that I am achieving much more with my time. I feel like I am also using my time much more efficiently. And time is money, or some variation of that. Although I do not necessarily agree with that adage, I do value my time. I value the experiences that I have and what I learn everyday. I can honestly say that I have learned at least one important thing every day of the week.

Here’s to a new semester and the personal value to time well spent.

Mindsets

I’ve been stuck on the notion of a different mindset since November and the election. I have grown use to our new reality of who runs our country and have said that hard goodbye to a man that has inspired me and millions that look like me. However, this past weekend at the Women’s March I could not help but return back to the idea of a mindset. I kept thinking how can anyone not support some of the basic request that individuals are making. For example, equal pay for both genders and all races, to me, seems logical, understandable and constitutional. However, for others it is not.

Thus, I have consistently been plagued with not understanding how simple ideas such as equal pay cannot be agreed upon. Furthermore, the idea that an african american life is just as valuable to a white american life once again seems logical, understandable and constitutional. However, for so many these simple and clear and honest and basic ideas are refuted. I will never understand why. I stood there amongst thousands and was taken aback that all we want is what was promised to us since 1776. There is no plan for revenge or establishing ourselves as dominant. Instead, we simply want equality. I’m truly perplexed that someone can refute climate change, or that women don’t get paid the same as men for the same job, when their is evidence that says otherwise. Nonetheless, I have accepted that this mindset will forever be foreign to me. There is no way we should not all agree that we all deserve equal opportunity. Any opposition to that, is incorrect and is in no way connected to the God I believe in.

I believe in difference, however, this quote explains it best. “We can disagree and still have love for each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my professional and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”

Prescience

This past Sunday, I listened to a sermon delivered by the Reverend Jen Quigley, one of my supervisors at the chapel. Her sermon talked about the time she spent doing work at the Howard Gottlieb Archival Research Center, handling documents that were in the Martin Luther King Jr. collection. While reading these documents, she came across names of several women who were active during the civil rights movement, a movement full of activism and, I would argue, prescience. For it seems that even with the strides that movement made in the 1960s, we are still asking the kinds of questions it raised today as we remember MLK day: how is progress made? How do we aim toward a better future while being active in the present? These are questions that remind me of the achievements many women have made, and the sense of foreknowledge that I associate with them and their achievements.

The association between women and forethought has a very long history. The Pythia, for instance, was an oracle who resided at Delphi in Ancient Greece. People would bring offerings to the temple at Delphi, and she was said to breathe in fumes from the earth and recite prophecies, which often were enigmatic and ambiguous. One of the more famous stories surrounding the oracle is as follows: When a king asked her if he should go to war, she replied that if he did, a great kingdom would be destroyed. The king subsequently went to war believing he would win, and his own kingdom was destroyed.

Then there was Cassandra, one of the priestesses of Apollo in Troy. The myths surrounding her recount that she was cursed by Apollo, so that she would tell prophecies that would come true yet go ignored by everyone. She was said to have predicted the fall of Troy, yet none of the Trojans listened to her. What happened next can be summed up concisely in a phrase my Latin teacher told me: “Ilium fuit,” which translates aptly to: “Troy was.”

Then there was the prophet Anna, who is mentioned briefly in the Gospel of Luke after the shepherds visit Mary and Joseph. The gospel recounts: “She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2: 36-38).

Each of these women had a gift of foresight, catching a glimpse of the future and deciding to speak or act accordingly. Unfortunately, in two of these cases, their words go unheeded. Remembering these stories reminds me of how often the valuable contributions of women in history go unnoticed. This was true for me on Sunday, when Jen read the names of women I had never even heard of, despite their contributions to the civil rights’ movement.

I recently saw the film Hidden Figures with my younger sister, which recounts the stories of three African-American women who served in NASA and made great strides in advancing early space missions in the United States: Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. These are stories that I wish I had heard while growing up, as they showed me how three incredible black women, among others, pushed scientific progress forward in the United States. In a time where the country is deeply divided over issues of race and racism, of progress, and of women’s rights, these are stories that need to be told. Not so that we can throw our hands off and conclude that we’ve moved past racism and sexism since these women existed, but so that we can acknowledge that these women are inspiring and ask ourselves: “These women were able to make their mark in spite of all the obstacles they faced. What can we do, as a society, to reduce these obstacles and make it possible for other women, wherever they are in life, to do the same?” That is the prescience, the act of looking forward, that I believe these women’s stories hold. They establish that progress is possible, and they ask us a question: What will you do in the present to make that possible in the future?

I went to the MLK commemoration at BU on Monday, which was entitled “Hope, Despair, and the Blues.” There I heard one of my friends perform, a friend who is currently doing research asking why there are so few female African American instrumentalists by interviewing musicians like her. She also is looking toward the future, trying to understand how the world of music can change so that it allows young, female, and black musicians to perform without barriers impeding them. I also listened to a speech by Kirsten Greenridge, a playwright, writer, and assistant professor at the school of theatre. She was speaking about her experience in the days after the election, and how her ability to write was affected by that experience. At one point she quoted a line from the musical Hamilton, a musical that I’ve listened to a lot recently: “Look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now.”

This line was the refrain of one of my favorite characters in the musical, Eliza. She and her sister, Angelica, articulate one of the core conflicts faced by the musical’s main character, Alexander. On the one hand, Eliza entreats him to be present with her and their son, and to appreciate the progress that they have made. Angelica, on the other hand, perceives that Alexander always wants to keep pushing, never being satisfied with what he currently has. In the end, Alexander chooses the latter, driving a lot of conflict in the second half of the musical. What’s interesting is that these two women are framing this conflict much earlier, in the middle of the first act. The musical motifs that appear in the songs they sing in the first half also appear later on in the second half, when conflict breaks loose. In other words, the conflict they frame and the music they sing recurs, and almost seems to predict what will happen later on in the play.

Thinking about these characters and the women I’ve talked about in this reflection has helped shape my idea of what progress is. Progress isn’t something that you can be complacent with and know will happen (as Harry Lennix, another speaker at the commemoration, expressed with words much more eloquent than mine). It is something that you have to look toward in the future and act so that you move closer to it. May we continue the stories of the women who have worked toward this progress, and may we remember their prescience in doing so.