It’s been so long since I posted anything here. I decided to check to see when I last offered something in this space. Surprisingly, it’s been nearly a month, December 26, 2020.
Since that time, I’ve attempted to write several times. Each time, I felt a bit unsettled and wasn’t sure why. Today, I attribute that feeling to what was happening in the larger environment (community, country, planet, heavens). So much seemingly chaotic and volatile energy…and I knew I was feeling a bit off. I just didn’t quite put it all together while I was in it. I read a lot of people who are tuned into the zeitgeist, and clearly the energies were intense. I suppose because we are in the Winter here and still stying close to or at home to remain safe in the ongoing and devastating pandemic, I attributed my unsettled inability to string sentences together in a meaningful fashion, to the seasons we were in.
Below is something I started writing a few days following the attack on the US Capitol. Having had a career in public service (in the federal government here in the US), this experience was shocking and deeply upsetting. Today, I’m glad that I did not delete it. There are some who have been talking about the first “three Wednesdays in January” as being fairly consequential and I wholeheartedly agree that indeed, they were. In fact, I feel we will be living with these consequences for some time to come.
So, I offer the following as reflections on that period leading up to and including the inauguration of a new President and Vice-President.
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The days have been challenging, and sometimes extremely long and painful. As one who is deeply aware of my sensitivity, I’ve found my nervous system a bit under siege in the past few years. Even knowing all that I know, sometimes it’s hard to get back to center and be calm when what is swirling all around me is anything but calm.
I’ve examined through much contemplation what is at the core of my discomfort. At first I didn’t believe it was fear. It certainly wasn’t the angry fear that is projected over and over before our very eyes. And yes, I am human. What has been most difficult to reconcile is the deep sadness of what so many do not know – about who they really are.
Reflecting, now I know that there is some fear, born out of compassion, for those closest to me and rippling out from there, who are not aware of what is real and what is not. I’ve had to come to terms with the reality, over and over again, that they are where they are and there is nothing I can do…or should do…to convince, cajole or otherwise attempt to help them see a different way of viewing or leading their lives.
We are human, and fallible. And in our human fallibility, we often don’t take responsibility for things we’ve done, words we’ve said and choices we have made, which resulted in deep hurt in others. We even reject love when we are deeply lost in the beliefs we hold tightly to while listening to the voices (inside our minds and other humans outside) which seem to “egg us on.” We hold tightly to all of that out of fear…of the unknown.
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As I watched in horror the images from the attack on the US Capitol (January 6, 2021), I felt so many different feelings. Apparent anger wasn’t one of those. What I realized I was feeling was deep sadness, and concern for all of those affected…and even compassion for the wild-eyed insurrectionists who seemed to have strayed far from their moral compass and were inflicting injury to humans, and destruction to the symbol of a democracy which has striven to “form a more perfect union”.
What is apparent to me now is that I share something with all of them. I have a fundamental belief in the Constitution and what it is intended to do and be, as a living document, for our society (in the US). They do, too. The difference between us? When I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, I did so with an open mind and heart, grounded in the belief that even in our human experiences together, we can find ways through our differences.
We are learning more and more about those who participated and now know that many of them had sworn an oath to the Constitution, too. They believed it was somehow being ignored and that they needed to fight for it. Incited by a so-called leader, and fed lies to support their intentions, it is easy to say they “lost their minds”. In fact, when we narrow the walls of our beliefs and therefore our choices and actions, we lose sight of the bigger picture. We choose to not learn that the world is bigger than the smallness of that to which we have chosen to expose ourselves; our minds, our hearts, our thoughts. We fear what we do not know, or choose to not look at or otherwise explore that lies beyond the walls of our individual fortresses of mind.
For those who participated and who had themselves sworn an oath to the Constitution, that oath seems to have been conflated with a blind, unspoken oath to an individual, who had no interest in them; only what they would do at his behest, which would ultimately and only benefit him.. There is much written and observable about the individual, his mental health, his choices, habits, his past experience with business and not governing. I will not repeat any of that here. I seek to only offer a different way of viewing what is occurring in our country right now. This is my view through the lens of my experience.
Giving up ourselves, our hearts – ignoring our very souls – leaves us vulnerable to the voices of those who seek to only make things better for themselves. Betrayals are the outcome of such a giving up or abandoning of self. Our experiences of betrayal – however painful – are truly betrayals of self. We have ignored the still small voice of love deep within which seeks to guide us in this life; and instead listen exclusively to the voice of fear that seeks to offer a small and narrow path toward the expression of grievances. Listening to that constant drumming inside, coupled with the voices of others who echo our grievances only emboldens us further. And then we have the experience of betrayal.
Our comfort zones both protect and harm us.
A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there.*
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Where do we go from here?
The remembrance ceremony the day before the inauguration was a moment of acknowledgement…of lives lost, of the pain of the seeming intentional ignorance of what had been needed to bring us back from the edges of more loss of life, sadness and ongoing suffering. It was a moment of remembering where we were before the pandemic ravaged our nation and just how dark and dismal the future looked for a while. Tears fell for grief, honoring and remembering and….for hope.
The inauguration was, for me, a day of quiet celebration – the inauguration of a new President and Vice-President – filled with some lovely and disturbing images. And these are the times we are in. Holding my breath through a lot of the ceremony, I was finally able to breathe, as the day went on and there were more images of honoring those lost to war, looking forward, acknowledging the people of this nation, those we’ve lost and steps into a different way of approaching the challenges before us. A wise, experienced and deeply compassionate, empathetic leader brings something we haven’t experienced in a while.
It is quite clear that the road ahead will be a lot like traveling a mountain road on the way to the view at the top. There will be curves, bumps, sudden rock or landslides, and yet we must keep our focus on the road ahead…the hill we climb.**
May hearts be opened to our shared humanity.
May minds be opened to consider that which has been previously rejected.
May a deep sense of shared humanity and the love we each have within us be resurrected to lead us into a future that is more peaceful.
May we work together, side by side, diligent in our intention to prepare the ground for those who will follow us – our children and our grandchildren.
May we all be blessed and know in our hearts the Source of the miracles contained in these blessings.
* This quote is attributed to many different people – authors and other speakers alike.
** A nod to Amanda Gorman’s beautifully written and articulated poem. You can see and hear her read it here, if you haven’t yet enjoyed this beautiful writing.