Check Your Heart
“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it's fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there's an arrow in your heart...”
Pema Chodron (Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living)
Over the weekend, I went to an art show—the annual event of the Alabama Designer/Craftsmen. As happens at such events, I ran into many people I knew, and some that I didn't. To the person, everyone expressed concern over where we are, and where we're going, not just as a nation, but as a world. I heard about anger, deep sadness, fear, but very little about hope. And, this is Alabama—the reddest of red states. Yesterday, at church, one of my African American friends said she is not ready to join the street protests because they are supposed to be peaceful—and she isn't feeling peaceful. These are troubled times. People are grieving for America, and for the world.
I don't think this grief is so much about losing the opportunity to have a woman in the White House, or about electing a brash, unruly, offensive man to the office. It seems more about losing what is compassionate and kind in this grand idea of America the Beautiful. Of reverting back to a world where vulnerable people are marginalized and not provided for, even killed, or enslaved. Having grown up in that world, with a sister in a wheelchair who needed constant care, I can testify that the good old days were not so great for a lot of people.
In the 1970's, I was director of a center for children with severe disabilities in Raleigh, NC. At that time, third year medical students from Carolina came through to be introduced to the world of genetic and developmental disabilities. One young man I will always remember said to me, “If I had been at the delivery table of any of these children, I would have tossed them straight into a toilet.” He was to be a surgeon—someone who holds life/death in his hands everyday. While I understood that he was frightened of something he could not control, even with his very big brain and his very skilled hands, that's a world we don't want to go back to.
We have to be where we are until we can move forward. If that means angry, sad, scared, and disappointed, so be it. In the meantime, while we are in this period of assessing the arrow in our heart, let us also make an effort to be kind to one another.
In the Spirit,