Gratitude and Outrage—A reflection by Melissa Weiksnar

I remember hearing a definition of emotional adulthood as being able to “hold” two conflicting emotions simultaneously. For example, we can celebrate a loved one’s life, AND grieve their loss deeply. We can always be furious with someone for what they did, and still always love them.

I am realizing the Gratitude I feel fuels my Outrage at the pandemic and the murders of George Flynn, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others, and the underlying racism and injustice.

In listening to this morning’s news, I heard about the situation at the Bailey Ave. police station. Tear gas. Bullets. An SUV breaking barriers. I thought back with gratitude to Slow Rolls in that neighborhood, bringing together people of so many backgrounds from all over WNY, getting to know each other -- as well as members of the Buffalo Police, both embedded in the ride and at intersections. The Gratitude for what has been possible fuels my Outrage at how our Monday rides have been stolen by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, I bike and run in my neighborhood with Gratitude. And I feel Outrage that if I were black or brown, I might be thinking three or four times before heading out. As an older white woman, I perhaps feel Guilty that I only have to think twice.

I feel Outrage at not having been able to visit my 96 year old mother for almost three months, and Gratitude that no COVID-19 cases have been reported at her assisted living. I feel Gratitude for those caring for her, and Outrage that visible racial disparities in staffing go unspoken. I feel Outrage at my mom being deprived of the ability to meet her first great grandchild, and Gratitude for FaceTime, and that the US mail is going through.

I feel Outrage that an evening gardening event at my parish has to stop at 7:30 p.m. due to an 8 p.m. curfew, and that any of our volunteers, especially those of color, might not feel safe driving to / from the church. I feel Gratitude that the deep connections our parishioners have allow me to feel this Outrage, and that our leadership has innovated to keep us connected. 

I feel Outrage that the full scope of the fledgling East Side Garden Walk will be limited. And Gratitude that the leaders are finding a way to make its connecting power happen by adopting new ways.

I feel Outrage that Buffalo String Works has had to suspend in-person after-school classes for our students, most of whom are from immigrant and refugee families. And I feel Gratitude for how the staff has rallied with technology to provide some continuity to their music education and sense of community.

I feel Gratitude for all the goodness I know is possible, and Outrage that those who haven’t experienced such deep blessings might not have those points of reference to fuel Outrage.

I must feel hopeful that we will again be able to Slow Roll, visit family, Garden Walk, worship, and make music together. I hope I will sustain the courage to do so in a deeper, more understanding, more just, more compassionate way. And I will be Grateful to my communities for keeping me honest, and Outraged.

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