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Archive for November, 2016

Trumped

Trust in the Lord, lean not into your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path – Proverbs 3:5-6  This is a scripture that I associate with my late grandmother, Jessie Bell; I’m not sure if it was her favorite scripture but it’s becoming one of mine, she always said it – “Trust in the Lord.”

On Thursday morning after the 2016 US Presidential election I was with another Jessie, my soul friend from Princeton Theological Seminary.  We had plans to have breakfast around ten fifteen in a rural part of Annapolis, MD.  I arrived before she did and as I sat in the car, watching patrons enter the restaurant, a feeling came over me that was new: a paralyzing, gripping fear of entering that place.  Everyone going in was White and so is my friend.  I felt afraid, hated.  The feelings were real and raw.

“I can’t go in there,” I told me.  “They all voted for Donald Trump,” “They hate me and my Black skin.”  In hindsight, this panic could have been influenced by my visit to the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture the day prior; and my general grief over my childhood ignorance about racism. Nonetheless, I was sobbing in my car by the time my soul friend arrived; sad, and partly embarrassed for feeling the way that I did  – making the assumptions that I was making – and yet honoring my pain in it too.

Jessie is a Pastor and she invited me to her home down the road instead. She made me coffee and cut me some fruit and we sat on her porch and had a Holy talk.  I asked her what she was preaching about this Sunday and she told me some things that were helpful:

1 – “No matter how this election had turned out, half of the country would have been heartbroken – afraid.”  Just because you don’t understand someone’s heartbreak, doesn’t mean that its not real. Half of the country might have felt the way that I did in my car had Hillary Clinton won. They  probably did feel this way eight years ago when President Obama was elected.  I don’t have to understand it; in just the same way that I need people to create space for my pain, I can be big enough to create space for another’s.  “The divisiveness around this election tells us one thing,” my friend said, “that the soul of this nation is severely wounded.” It makes me think that we need healing – to connect rather than to add to the aggression that deepens the wound. I ask myself how I can be a part of that.

2 – My friend said “Everyone who voted for Trump is not Trump.”  I had that sense as I watched stories from people in small towns in Ohio  – my home state – explaining their vote.   Their lives are hard and this election shed some light on that, it certainly raised my awareness.  And the White upper-middle class Trump supporters ; maybe they didn’t feel like they had another choice, maybe they are afraid too.

And there were those Trump rallies that we saw – certainly there were thousands who were excited by the hateful rhetoric   – but that is a reflection of sheer and utter ignorance, poverty, and the failings of our education system. For many, the ‘privilege’ of whiteness is all that they have left to hold on to and that privilege is vague.  Surely it means something when confronted by the police – it means you might not get shot as quickly or as arbitrarily as a black person- but on a daily basis I, a Black woman, feel more privileged than the average White American.  I have a flexible lifestyle, I travel, I practice yoga, I live in comfort and I am educated.   I eat, every day, as much or as little as I want to. Maybe this is why Dylann Storm Roof walked into The Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015 in Charleston with the intention to kill middle class Black people. Because their lives didn’t look and feel like his and in his mind it shouldn’t be that way.

Can we find it within ourselves to be so balanced, steady, that we can get up close to that hate and see it for what it really is -pain and fear.  Can we be so equanamous that we can get close to non-virtue in the world and meet it with eyes of compassion?  Yes, it is hard.

3 – My friend told me about the airport experiment.  Apparently a group of psychologists went into an airport with an attitude of mindfulness – slow and steady breath, a still and calm presence.  In this place where people are normally filled with high anxiety, people began to calm down when they encountered these grounded individuals.  It’s worth a try. I notice this sometimes, that I have the power to shift the energy in a room when I am grounded, steady and calm.  We all have this power.

My soul friend finally told me that she was going to preach from Luke 21:5-19.  In this story, the Disciples are standing outside of the Temple in Jerusalem admiring it for its beauty and grandeur, then Jesus walks up and basically says that one day that Temple will be destroyed. He goes on to tell of some other horrible things that will happen and then, in the end, he says : “but by your endurance you will gain your souls.”  So what does it mean?  – Basically we are not meant to put our trust in earthly things like brick and mortar, or in people.  People and Things come and go.  There are good times and then bad times, and then good times again.  Earthly things are impermanent.  We were never meant to trust in earthly things because they change.  Instead we are to trust in what is permanent, consistent, bigger than us.  That trumps all else.

Just like my Grandma said – Trust in the Lord.

And lasltly, Ishvara Pranidhana (Ish-va-ra  Pra-nid-han-a), this is a yoga teaching. This is the yogi’s goal.   My yoga teacher, Romy sent me this reminder.  Broken down, Ishvara means “God” or “Supreme Being” and Pranidhana means “fixing”.  I exhale when I think of it, what grace!  God Fixing.  The idea behind this yoga teaching is that we are to surrender – we are to surrender everything that we know (and all of the ways that we think that we are right) and instead cultivate a deep and trusting relationship with our Higher Power/God/Divinity. We do this by making each action, each word, each meditation of heart, an offering to God.  Here, the healing begins.

Amen.

 

 

 

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