Benediction for County Commissioners

Middlesex County (New Jersey) Board of County Commissioner

Swearing In Cermony and Reoganization Meeting


January 6, 2022

Reverend Karen G. Johnston

Spirit of Life and Love,

God of Many Names,

Including No Name,

Including No God,

Great Abiding Mystery

Source of All That Is:

I offer this benediction that all people of conscience and all people of faith may hear.

It begins with an invitation to pause. It begins with an invitation to breathe.

These pandemic times are trying. They are exhausting, confounding, painful, exacting, rigorous.

These times hold within them great pain and genuine joy; devastating loss and real connection; shocking corruption and transformational compassion.

May these elected officials, and all public servants of this place once called Lenapehoking by the first peoples, and now called the county of Middlesex in this state of New Jersey, truly know and respect their super powers.

In times most challenging, when the poison of division comes too close for comfort, let them remember their super power of taking a pause, available at nearly all times, able to usher in wisdom and skill, where otherwise impulse might wreak havoc or cause damage.

In times most difficult, when facing conflict, let them remember their super power of curiosity, which, like water, can soften rock-hard hearts and which, like sunshine on peonies, can open closed minds, including our own.

In times most demanding, when drawn into the confusion of false equivalencies and the sometimes misleading siren of unity ~ that false unity that comes at the cost of diversity ~ let them remember their super power of integrity, knowing they serve all, which includes those with least voice; which includes those who have experienced systemic harm; which includes not just the Middlesex County of now, but the one of generations to come, for we are in the midst of a climate crisis.

May these leaders know the necessity to care well for their own health and tend to their families and their beloveds, for while their showing up is essential, what we ask of them in service of the common good should not put these tender things at risk.

May these leaders know the joy of completing a project well-stewarded and the sense of meaning that comes from collective efforts towards a purpose larger than themselves. In good times, may they laugh together in a way that builds the muscle of hope. In tragic times, for surely such times will come, may they be of good comfort to one another.

May all who are listening tonight know that the work of serving the common good does not fall solely on the shoulders of these leaders, but belongs to all of us, working to hold them, and ourselves, accountable, to be the change-makers and resilience-builders these times call for.

May these human beings, dedicated to public service and the common good, know and show that they serve all the layers and litters of life, for stewardship of this county must not merely tend to human commerce; stewardship of this county must extend to all creatures and kin who exist on, and in this particular parcel we inhabit on this pale blue dot of a planet, the only home we’ve ever known.[i]

Just as none of us is ever alone, none of our actions are ever in isolation. May their choices and actions be informed by the best of the seven generations past and inspired by the hopes of seven generations to come, for we are all “situated within concentric circles of belonging[ii],” across geography and time.

May their efforts, and all our efforts, be worthy.

So be it. See to it. Amen.

[i] H/t Carl Sagan, “Pale Blue Dot,” https://www.planetary.org/worlds/pale-blue-dot

[ii] From “The Desert Within” by Leath Tonino, The Sun, January 2022