I am loath to admit it but—I’ve grown numb.
It’s been over 7 months since the election and the initial tsunami of disbelief, horror, fear and sadness has faded. It seems I’ve moved through the five stages of grief and landed at a glassy-eyed gauze of resignation, if not acceptance.
The addresses, phone numbers and emails of all my political representatives are still front and center on my refrigerator but when I catch site of them on my way to olives and cheese, they elicit more guilt than action. Maybe if I lived in Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky or in Georgia’s 8th I’d be on the phone every day making a fuss. But here in Kamala Harris Diane Feinstein country, I’ve gone quiet. Jerry Brown’s got my back. I’m insured. No opioid crisis here in Santa Cruz (that I’ve heard about anyway) People are smoking too much pot to bother with Fentanyl or Oxy. Me? I’m safe. So…
DAILY DIRECTIONS: Wake up. Make smoothie. Insert head firmly in sand.
(Don’t bother writing. I know. I’m a bad citizen.)
Russia Obstructiongate has helped. Over the last few months, I’ve returned to the news, watching with glee as the print media digs up nails for Trump’s coffin and cable news pounds them home. Oh, what a satisfying distraction it has been.
Watching James Comey and Jeff Sessions at that polished table brought back sweet memories of the summer of 1973. I was 13, on my way into 7th grade, bonding with Mom in front of the TV, watching sweat glisten on Haldeman’s forehead. At the end was justice.
Witnessing the dog pile of Trump scandals get higher and higher has been entertaining. I’ve been cheering at the TV, happy at the news that’s the White House is in meltdown, rooting for a president’s comeuppance.
Then came the Senate’s version of the health care bill and I remembered that this isn’t junior high and we’re not in a popularity contest. It’s hard to snicker when people in wheel chairs are being dragged into paddy wagons for protesting, hard to look away at the prospect of the elderly being thrown out of nursing homes.
So? Back to the page; back to connecting; back to Chronicle of Joy.
Writing Beyond the World
In the midst of the mayhem, I’ve been working on my next project. It’s a book about spiritual qualities, the building blocks of a conscious, grounded life.
Examples: love, beauty, serenity, kindness, gratitude, courage, community and many many more.
While writing is never easy, I’ve been enjoying myself as I dive into the richness of each word. As they say, you can only write about what you know.
Writing about the sweet fruits of life that are always available to us has been enriching and helpful as the world spins out of control. It helps me remember there are principles we can count on…qualities that are there for us regardless of the whirl of circumstance.
Below is a sample of what I’ve been writing. Should you want to print a more reader friendly version, click here.
For now, I’ll wish you a joyous summer regardless of the times we find ourselves.
A disposition or willingness to stop feeling resentful towards an offense or offender
Sometimes, I lay in bed at night and seethe. Some injustice, some injury has been committed against me so I stare at the shadows on the ceiling and recall each infraction, catalogue each wrongdoing for later reference. Brick by brick, I construct a wall between me and my villain and stand firm, hardened for the fight.
But the fight never comes. I am alone, behind my wall, swirling in my fury.
The human heart is tender and we struggle to keep it safe. Sometimes that means shuttering ourselves away; other times we lash out. But when we choose to forgive, we take a different path. We don’t retreat or attack. We stand still in the tornado and make a choice to open our hearts wider than we ever thought possible.
In 2006, a man walked into a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and shot ten girls before turning the gun on himself. He was, by most standards, the definition of evil. Unforgivable. But, before the sun had set the following day, the entire community had gathered to offer their forgiveness to the murderer and his family.
Forgiveness isn’t easy. It’s a process, a muscle that needs to be flexed, nourished, stretched. The deeper the wound, the longer it takes to heal. The pain becomes a faithful, familiar companion. I know this from experience.
For decades, I stirred a pot of resentment towards my mother. She was flawed and I wanted better. Through my twenties, thirties and forties, her shortcomings simmered on my back burner. But when she called one day and, through tears, told me she couldn’t bring herself to eat, I walked into a therapist’s office and handed myself over. “My mother’s health is failing. Help me to not hate her when she dies.” Two years later, after a long and ragged road, I sat at my Mom’s hospice bedside, holding her hand, stroking her cooling forehead, loving her wholeheartedly.
Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. To forgive is not to forget but to look through the circumstances, to the soul beyond the story. Each of us are born with a clean slate and, through the years, each of us manage to stir up the mud. To forgive is to acknowledge our fallibility, our frailty, the ease with which we all veer off the path. To forgive is to unburden ourselves of the bitterness and reach, instead, for the sweet fruit of compassion.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner is you.
—Lewis B. Smedes