I know I’m not alone in the emotional exhaustion that has been plaguing me in the last week. With the descent into darkness after the time change, outlooks for the future appear dim. The coming Thanksgiving holiday, tricky as it may be from a political standpoint, prompted some much-needed time for reflection. I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts. Hopefully, they will help all of us feel less alone.
I’ve been asked several times how I would have handled this if I was elected. Truth be told, so much has happened since then that I’m not sure there’s a clean answer to that. I really liked John Michael Greer’s suggestion that ADF transform Isaac’s birthday into a day for advocating for consent culture and community service to help victims of sexual abuse and misconduct. I am actually taking this to my grove to implement on a local level. Isaac wasn’t perfect, he said so himself, and as many of our Elders who knew him mention, he was a product of his time. He was prone to lecherous behavior, sometimes needing more convincing than we’d like to accept, “no,” as an answer, and we cannot change or excuse this behavior. AND it will do more harm than good to attempt to suppress his foundational role in the history of our organization. As Rev. William brought to us from his religious studies degree: it’s about rupture and repair. We all make mistakes, some that hurt people. Rupture is a natural part of our humanness. It is the repair efforts, it is what we do in the face of it, that defines our character.
The Mother Grove is pursuing an external consultant to help provide us with direction, which I fully endorse, for both the Mother Grove and the Clergy Council. It is my hope that these entities will be engaged in their entirety to solve their internal issues. I’d also like to see a focus group created composed of a cross-section of our organization to work on a full redesign of our structure. One that increases the power of local groups, streamlines the subgroups in ADF International, and balances power in such a way that the goings-on of the overarching organization are not part of a hierarchy but part of a community.
I’ve been reading all the emails and as much of Facebook as I can to take in everyone’s concerns and suggestions. There is a lot of hurt, anger, and pain in your words, and I feel that. There is also a lot of love, hope, and commitment, and I feel that, too. If it didn’t hurt, it would mean we don’t care. Since we clearly care, I am hopeful. I look forward to working with the external consultant and continuing to work toward implementing changes where they are necessary. Change is upon us, whether we like it or not. We can adhere to the way things have always been in the name of tradition and let change happen to us, or we can embrace the fact that change is inevitable and direct it for the good of the membership and our local communities.
May we all find healing and a growing ability to embrace change.
Rev. Melissa S Ashton, MNM
Mountain Ancestors Grove, ADF