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“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. – Abraham Lincoln

When I agreed to host this Wednesday, it didn’t occur to me that this would be an unusual day. The day after the 2020 election. That hit me a few hours later, and it gave me pause. It felt a bit like a weight that I wasn’t sure I wanted to carry. But knowing that my resistance to doing a thing is often a sign that it’s worth doing, I did not ask to be excused. If you show up Wednesday, I’ll be your host.My mind did go back to my experience four years ago, sitting at Rockridge, the day after the last election. I don’t remember the koan we sat with, but I remember what I shared.

The previous night, as I sat and watched the returns come in, I had these words that kept running through my head. Something like, “Better nature of Angels,” or “Angels of our better nature.” It was a term that was vaguely familiar to me, but I had no idea where it came from, what it meant, or why it had chosen that moment to bounce around in my mind.

Later that night, or maybe it was the next morning, I googled the words and found that they come from Lincoln’s first inaugural address. Huh. Lincoln spoke these works at a time when seven states had already seceded from the Union. The Civil War was probably all but inevitable. There were sharpshooters stationed on all the nearby rooftops to protect Lincoln from Confederate sympathizers. And he chose not to fan the flames, but instead shared these beautiful words meant to appeal to our unity and connectedness. All of us.

And these were the words that had run through my head as the 2016 election was decided. Words I did not know the origin or meaning of. Words that seemed so entirely appropriate to the moment. Why? Where did they come from?

I can’t say, but I shared them with my team at work the next day. I shared them at Rockridge later that night. And as we wait to see what will unfold in this election, and how it will unfold, I know Lincoln was right. We don’t get to know how, and we don’t get to know when, but we will all be touched again by the better angels of our nature.

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