Several weeks ago, a friend and I joined a small group of folks to watch one of those completely devastating documentaries about the massive climate crisis we find ourselves in.

When the film finished and we were processing what we had seen and heard, my friend looked around the room with watery eyes and said, “I just can’t. I’ve not been fully back in the movement since Copenhagen and I just can’t return to it yet.”

My immediate response to this friend was, “It’s all good. I release you.”
Not a moment later, someone else said, “I don’t! We need you.”

Dear friend, I’ll say it again here because our conversation that night got confused about just what a critical mass is and just what it means to be showing up.

I release you.

I have seen you, and so many other friends of ours who survived Cop15, wince as Cop21 came, and went. I know that we will be at this for our whole lives. So take the time you need to heal and return with strength and hope.

So you know, last Monday, the day we honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his great and radical legacy, I stayed home, slept in, cooked, cleaned, and sorted emails. I did not go to the #reclaimMLK march here in Boston, that awesomely creative funeral procession for the death of poverty, racism, and imperialism. At home was where I could offer my best that day.

I want us to not be ashamed of taking a break. I want us to take a long view. To be “ministers not messiahs.”

I’m not afraid of losing you because I know you know what Rabbi Tarfon says: “It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it.”

I want you to feel permission to keep taking a break. I want to be able to release you from your heartbreak and despair. And I want to be standing next to you when you come back.

image credit: Gabriel Saldana