All my characters are somewhere inside me still, inside my heart – even the evil-minded ones. But the good ones, too. Having written their stories, I hear them speak again, from time to time. When times are darkest, I am especially glad that Polycarp and Sahira are still in there. Polycarp asks his friends, when they are despairing, “What do we believe? What do we know to be true?”
I believe in love that endures.
I believe in the irreducible value of every human being.
I believe in tikkun olam: repairing the world, each day, by doing justly and by telling stories.
I believe stories have the power to change lives and to change the shape and course of the world.
I believe that stant litore puppes, that even if half the world is burned to ash, what grows in its place will still be beautiful, because renewal and resurrection and new birth is written into the rhythms of existence, and because ash is very fertile. And though the next chapter does not change what was lost, it is never the end of the story.
I believe in never giving up.
I believe in education, that ‘knowledge is our ally in the night land, our shield against terrors.’
I believe my first duty is empathy. I believe in compassion and in paraklesis: in standing by another who is vulnerable, hearing them, and advocating for them.
And when I am weary, I will reach into that place in my heart where Polycarp and Sahira still stand by me, paracletes themselves, ready to help me to my feet and kindle my heart with a story and walk with me to stand together between the one who is hurting and the one doing the hurt. I am often glad they are there.
I believe in stories. No less now than when I was seven.
Art credit: The image above is an illustration of Regina, a detail from Lauren K. Cannon’s cover art for my novel What Our Eyes Have Witnessed.