When my son was young he loved to play with the Hasbro toy “Transformers.”

One moment the toy was a dump truck and the next, after some deft manipulation which was sometimes a challenge for little hands, the toy was a robot. It was fantastic to have a two-for-one toy. He and his friends made up stories for the times and ways that the Transformer toys would make their changes. Of course, young children are themselves always changing. Each day they find themselves different. In truth, it is the same for us all. We learn and grow and age; we change and are transformed.

For some, this transformation means becoming something new and different—hopefully changing for the better. For others, a transformation is a realization that we are becoming more ourselves—our truer selves.

Unlike butterflies, our transformations take place out in the open. We don’t hide away in a chrysalis, away from ongoing life, away from others, and then break out a butterfly—a completely new and different creature. Our community must be a witness, accomplice, and celebrant of the ongoing changes among us. Our experiences of change are individual and different but all hold value for the community. As a community, we must hold each other close through our many transformations.

In the words of James Baldwin, Nothing is fixed forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light falls, lovers cling to each other and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.