Home

ABORTION AMBIVALENCE IS NOT AN OPTION

6 Comments

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while (thank you!) know that I love politics. Probably too much. It’s an addiction, like football or baseball for some people. I follow all the stats, watch every “game,” know most of the players. This makes sense, since I lived and breathed politics during my thirty-year career as an environmental lobbyist on Capitol Hill. 

But it goes deeper than that. I grew up in a well-informed family steeped in the study of world history and engaged in current events. My father worked for the CIA and my older brother campaigned for Bobby Kennedy. Politics was always on the menu at our dinner table, for better or for worse. Some of my fondest family memories involve all of us gathered around our black & white TV set, watching political conventions. I thought this was normal.

MUST WE TALK ABOUT ABORTION?

All this to say that you may or may not have noticed that there is one hot political issue I have never written about in the ten (!!) years I’ve been blogging. Abortion. I hate the topic, and I hate how both sides use it to raise money, win elections, and stoke division and outrage. Such political posturing and messaging is hurtful and/or insulting to women. Abortion is a deeply personal and intimate issue, and every woman I know who has struggled with the decision of whether to terminate an unwanted pregnancy has been through hell, or at least purgatory.

You are not “pro-life” if you don’t support programs that help low-income women who decide to give birth to and raise their child. The GOP has always been intent on shredding the social safety net that provides healthcare, education, and nutrition for these families. You are not a “good Christian” if you verbally or otherwise abuse beleaguered woman and their doctors. 

Likewise, when Democratic strategists decided to adopt the slogan “I (heart) abortion,” I was aghast. Who loves abortion, even if you think of it only as a medical procedure? What a slap in the face to the millions of women who have faced that decision! 

I sometimes want to scream, “Shut up, everybody just shut up!”

And so, I have largely shut up. I remember once trying to cross Massachusetts Avenue with my fellow liberals when a large group of “Right to Life” marchers was wending its way up the street waving pictures of bloody fetuses. My friends were apoplectic. I stupidly said what I was thinking, which was that these people were being manipulated by radical right extremists, but that if a person truly believed that babies were being murdered, shouldn’t they be marching in the streets? 

Oops. That opinion was not allowed. 

THANK YOU KANSAS, FOR SPEAKING UP

I’ve never fit into a proper box. When abortion has been on the ballot in my state, I have voted for choice, but never enthusiastically. It wasn’t “my” issue. Over the years, my ambivalence has meant that I’ve not always been supportive of women friends when they needed me most. I deeply regret that. I hope that I am a more compassionate and less judgmental person than I used to be. 

My opinions and feelings have evolved over time, informed by science, my spiritual beliefs, and my experiences. But that’s the point, isn’t it? MY feelings, MY opinions, MY understanding of spirit and science. It is not MY right to tell anyone else how they should feel or behave, most especially when it comes to their own bodies.

And it’s certainly not the right of the government or a specific religion! Not in America. 

The Supreme Court’s extreme political activism means that I no longer have the luxury of laying low, of being “understanding of both sides.” Nope. I am wiser now. Better late than never, I guess. Ambivalence is not an option. Silence is not an option.

So today I am writing to say THANK YOU to the voters of Kansas. I especially want to thank those who may have been confused, ambivalent, or evolving on the issue of abortion, but who voted to protect a woman’s right to choose. Because in the end, it’s not about abortion and what you think about abortion. It is about abortion RIGHTS. And our basic rights are at stake. So thank you for showing up when you could have stayed home. Thank you for not shutting up. 

Finding Hope This Fourth of July

4 Comments

Happy Independence Day. I guess. It hardly feels worth celebrating this year, unlike last year when the vast majority of Americans celebrated the end of trump’s reign with a heartfelt “PHEW!” By last 4th of July, the trauma of the insurrection had begun to fade and denial was settling in, at least in my beleaguered brain. 

One year later, it’s hard to deny that the trump damage is wide and deep and lasting — for all of us, but especially for women and for the poor among us, who are hardest hit when voting and abortion rights are denied and the climate crisis worsens. 

IS THE SUN SETTING ON OUR REPUBLIC?

Life is overwhelming lately, right? I’ve had to abandon this blog post several times. Finding solid words to stand on is difficult, as I stumble between disbelief and grief, outrage and numbness, shock and hardened cynicism. Cynicism is the most dangerous, because it kills hope, and without hope we don’t vote and we don’t march and we don’t show up. And we “writing activists” don’t write. 

A STRONG DOSE OF HOPE

Thank God for Cassidy Hutchinson, who offered a strong dose of hope to those who seek truth and justice in the wake of the January 6th attempted coup. (Which is, let’s not kid ourselves, ongoing.) Everyone says her testimony was “shocking” and “stunning.” I suppose in a normal world, that would be so, but the most shocking part to me was that I wasn’t shocked.

A WOMAN OF COURAGE

As alarming as Hutchinson’s testimony was, none of it was out of character for the 45th president. Not the rage, the violence, the pettiness, the crazy. Not even the part where he demanded metal detectors be dismantled so that an armed mob could enter the ellipse and make a better photo op for him before descending on the Capitol building where the entire Congress and the Vice President were doing the work of democracy. 

OK, that particular bit did shock me. But not because of trump’s treasonous behavior — I just did not expect the Committee to hand the Department of Justice such a clear smoking gun. (Never has “smoking gun” been a more apt metaphor.)

WOMEN OF COURAGE

So if not shock, then what was my overwhelming feeling as I watched that brave 25 year-old woman raise her hand and risk her career — and perhaps her very life — for love of country? As she promised to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to that even braver 55 year-old woman from Wyoming who daily takes those same risks, only on steroids? I felt grief. Deep grief for our nation. I was surprised by my tears. My hard trump-shell cracked. Most of us knew we were in great peril when that man took over, but I honestly never imagined. And trust me, I thought I was fearing the worst. 

Let me be clear: I’m not saying Hutchinson and Cheney are heroes. They enabled and abetted trump every step of the way. Until they didn’t. They are courageous and they are strong and their bravery may save what’s left of democracy. Thank God for them, and may others follow their lead. But let’s not call them heroes. They and their ilk are largely responsible for America’s minority overrunning the majority, and for the Supreme Court’s dismantling of our freedom and independence just in time for the Fourth of July, 2022.

PRAYERS AND SPIT

I pray fervently for our nation this Fourth. Most especially for the direct victims of the Court’s recent rampage through our life, liberty and happiness: My heart is with all women — especially low-income women — and with Black voters, Native Americans, and kids who fear getting blown to bits at school. And of course my heart hurts for every living creature threatened by the Court’s choice of corporate profits and climate chaos over life. Amen.

Let’s celebrate this day with intention and determination and courage. May we all spit in the face of fear and take a hard hold on hope this Fourth of July.

Soon We Will See Their Faces

7 Comments

We all know how this goes. Soon we will see the pictures on our screens and in our newspapers. The scrubbed and smiling faces of the newly dead children, murdered by our inaction on gun control. By the National Rifle Association and the elected officials it pays off to make sure there is no action taken to save such children. 

The children of Uvalde, Texas went to school today with their sticky homework papers and lunch bags tucked inside their little backpacks. They trusted the adults in their lives to keep them safe. But their trust was misplaced. The grown-ups of America are allowing the continued  slaughter of these innocents.

So far this year, 134 children under twelve have been killed by gun violence. All those little faces. 

Many GOP senators have already spewed their disingenuous prayers all over social media. Shut up. Just shut up. Stop pretending you care, you craven hypocrites. These children don’t need your prayers. They need you to stop voting against gun control. They need you to stop accepting money from the political strategists and lobbyists behind the NRA carnage.

And if you are inclined to tell me not to talk about politics while we are grieving? Don’t. Do. Not.

Stubborn Hope in the New Year

2 Comments

So many social media posts this week sound like gasps or relief: Finally, it’s over! We made it! A fresh start! 

I don’t know what planet they are living on, but I don’t see much changing for a time. 2021 felt like a continuation of the dreaded 2020, except that it started off with an insurrection at the Capitol and the loss of one of my dearest friends to COVID. 

It’s hard to hope in the midst of the latest COVID surge and against a backdrop of historic floods and droughts and wildfires. Any yet. And yet. Here it is New Year’s Eve, a time of looking forward with hope to what a new year might bring. My pastor recently said that hope takes courage and determination, and it seems that has never been more true. 

We must be stubbornly hopeful. What miracles might we hope for? 

“Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down”
Jackson Browne

Pandemic Lessons

First of all — leaving aside the maniacs celebrating at Times Square tonight — most of us have been gradually learning to let go of bright & shiny distractions, extravaganzas, and expectations that we will be endlessly entertained by . . . something, anything. Spiritual sages throughout history have taught that “letting go” and “surrendering” are essential to spiritual growth. COVID has provided a master class in surrender.

We are learning to truly appreciate and sometimes cherish simple time with our families and close friends, those we lost to COVID and those still with us. We have rediscovered taking walks instead of “going for coffee,” making meals together instead of going to restaurants, reading books instead of going to concerts or movies or — well, anywhere. 

I confess I have felt resentful about those brief periods between COVID variants when we cautiously began to gather, to hug, to dine out. It felt like 2021 dangled hope before us and then snatched it away. But remembering those fleeting moments and the deep relief of getting vaccinated, I see that my thirsty soul was filled with a good dose of hope in 2021. I sat at a few dining tables with close friends, I ate food made by hands other than my own, I sang around fire pits, I went to crafts fairs and even made a few new friends. All of these are reminders that life will return to some form of normal. There is hope.

Possible Miracles

Maybe we will all be so sick of Zoom that we’ll reduce our screen time and enjoy time with actual human beings! Maybe the new habits of walking and gardening and chatting with neighbors will take hold and we’ll become healthier people, more in touch with our bodies, with our communities, and with the earth. Yes, there is hope. 

There is hope that the climate disruption we witness every day now, either personally or in the news, will be enough to overcome the evil greed that keeps our nation from acting in its own interest. 

I have hopes that the committee investigating the January 6 insurrection will hold public hearings to expose the involvement of past and present elected officials in the effort to overthrow our democracy. There is hope that someone will be held accountable.

There is hope, too, that the GOP overreach in various states to keep lower income communities and people of color from voting will be so egregious that a voting rights bill will actually become law. Perhaps our republic will survive when we are all equally able to cast our votes. Perhaps then there will be the will in Congress to reform the police and judicial systems. Maybe even protect our schoolchildren from the NRA! 

“Nothing is impossible with God,” says the Bible. And I believe that. I do. I just forget sometimes.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

My Own Personal Miracles

I long ago gave up New Year’s “resolutions” or “goals,” but I do have three “intentions” for the year 2022. The fact that they closely resemble my 2021 intentions does not bother me; I have learned to give myself a whole lot of grace. I am framing each of my intentions with hope:

  • I will declutter my home with the intention of entertaining loved ones in the future. I haven’t opened my door to friends since grief overtook me and entropy overtook my abode eight years ago. Clearing and cleaning my space will fill my head with hopeful visions of post-pandemic life. I may be stuck alone here right now, but it’s not forever. 
  • I intend to write hope into the world. This intention will keep me on the lookout for hope, so that my blog brings light into dark times. Please hold me to that, dear Readers, if I get too cynical or sarcastic. I also intend to finish the first draft of my memoir. It’s a hard process, reading old journals and remembering past angst & pain, but I nurture the hope that if I stay connected to my God, She will reveal hidden value, meaning, and connections in my life story. 
  • My last intention is most important. The lynchpin of my courage, determination, and hope is my relationship with the Divine. So my intention is to go deeper with God, to open my heart to hope and to miracles. I think I’ve become self-absorbed and stuck in my head during COVID. I’ve limited myself and God, forgetting that “nothing is impossible with God.” It’s time to reconnect with my source.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Her, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Trouble with the Trump Transition? You’re Not the Only One

5 Comments

The guy occupying the Oval Office isn’t the only one having trouble with the transition to a post-trump world. 

When I asked my Facebook friends whether anyone else was feeling unspeakably tired, the response was a resounding “Yes, yes, and yes.” People spoke of migraines, tension, and a sense of unreality, but mostly exhaustion. How else could we feel after being anxious, grieved, and/or outraged for such a long, long time? 

Even if we were engaged in “normal life,” we knew that all was not well. Not by a long shot. The president is a walking diagnostic manual of multiple mental disorders. Still, many also spoke of feeling “ecstatic” and “liberated” and being able to breathe deeply and sleep soundly for the first time in four years. So it’s both/and. Ecstatic and exhausted. Still grieving, but profoundly relieved.

#Irrelevant

This transition period is fraught in its own special way. The president is mostly quiet — golfing, watching TV, occasionally rage tweeting: “FRAUD!!!…THEY CHEAT!!!….RIGGED ELECTION!!” But you can tell  his heart’s not in it anymore. He is like a caged, wounded beast. His suffering is palpable — it feels pathological, like everything about him. He mostly hulks in the corner and sulks, occasionally lashing out ineffectually from behind his bars. (Won’t it be a fine day when Biden removes all the barricades trump has erected around our White House?)

I know trump is still the president, he still has the nuclear codes, he is still firing every effective and ethical civil servant who comes to his attention in these last days. Yet I feel he is increasingly becoming background noise. Irrelevant. And so my mind and body are relaxing in stages, little by little. I think this explains my daily mood swings. My brain chemicals are sloshing side-to-side so much that it’s dizzying. 

One day, I fear that trump is encouraging violence between Proud Boys and Antifa so that he can declare marshall law and at long last have his beloved military parade in the streets. The next day, I meet my neighbors at the local farmer’s market, buy some kale, cabbage, and sweet potatoes, and also some flowers and a stupidly expensive bottle of local Cabernet Franc. (The orchardist told me that Franc grapes are the “daddy” of both Cabernet and Merlot, so it’s got to be good.)

Getting outside, laughing with other people, and spoiling myself brings me back to our new reality. 

Yes, COVID. Yes, rampant racism. Yes, our democracy is shockingly fragile. But donald trump is done. The voters have spoken, and spoken loudly. Even though he continually tweets that he is “just getting ready” to reveal “massive fraud,” he is history. 

And speaking of history, hidden in his twenty morning tweets today is a plea for “historians” (in quotes because I guess he doesn’t believe in historians) to recognize that COVID vaccines were discovered under his watch. Perhaps he’s thinking about his legacy? Is reality getting through? More shall be revealed. 

New Head Space

For now, please take of yourself. Drink lots of water. Drink good wine, if you partake. Sleep late. Go outside and move your body. Eat chocolate. Treat yourself to flowers or books or whatever makes you happy. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Because amidst the darkness that is COVID and the national security risks caused by the man-child’s refusal to allow a peaceful transition, there is also room for happiness and joy and relaxation. As his yammering fades, there’s a lot more space in our heads for peace and goodness. We deserve that. 

And may we use our new-found head space to engage with the January 5th Georgia run-off election so that those same voters who rejected trump will continue to reject ugliness and division by denying trump’s enablers a majority in the Senate. Make a difference, here.

Just imagine if the Congress could once again do the people’s work! 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” — John 1:5

I Will Not Enable trump’s Psychological Warfare

9 Comments

I have experienced some psychological trauma in my life — not nearly what some people have survived, but enough to know what it feels like. What happens to your brain and body. I felt the nausea, pounding heart, headache and disassociation from reality last night, as I watched the so-called “presidential” debate.

When I woke this morning, it was all still there, plus a sense of panic because my cat had escaped and spent the night outside with the wild animals in the pouring rain. Perhaps she felt safer out there than trapped inside with the abuse and vitriol emanating from my computer.

I read a quote this morning that put our national nightmare in perspective for me:

“The president is engaging in psychological warfare against the American people — as tin-pot dictators do.”

— Tom Nichols, international affairs expert

(Tin-pot dictator: An autocratic ruler with little political credibility, typically having delusions of grandeur.)

No Trespassing, trump

So today I choose not to further expose myself to his abuse. He will not be in my head or my heart today. I’m staying away from screens, except perhaps to post pictures of colorful leaves or my cat (who came in for breakfast). There’s a part of me that wants to stay engaged, to watch the war on Twitter, the disbelief from the pundits, the rage on Facebook. It feels like therapy, in a warped way. Only it’s not — it’s enabling. I won’t listen to him, I won’t allow him to disturb my peace.

I’m making pancakes from scratch for brunch. I might build a fire even though it’s sixty degrees. I’m going to read my Bible and my Mary Pipher book, “Writing to Change the World,” because we each have to use the gifts we’ve been given. And I’m going to write — perhaps make progress on my unlikely essay about what trump can teach us about spirituality. Maybe I’ll edit some poetry I’m working on, or plaster my dining room walls with easel-sized Post-Its and start mapping out my memoir in bold colors. I’m stalled in my early thirties.

I’ll light scented candles and drink copious amounts of tea. I’ll cuddle up in a blanket and treat myself as if I’m having a sick day. Because I kind of am. But I know the cure. I’m with Joe Biden on this one:

 

“Will you shut up, man?!”

Choosing Peace

Hope for People & the Planet: Don’t Mourn, Organize!

Leave a comment

I’ve  been feeling a little hope lately, which is scary. “Don’t get your hopes up,” my mother used to tell me. Well, why the hell not? I’d be just as devastated either way, if the current president ends up staying in the White House.

The thing is, trump is (literally) banking on progressive people in this country feeling hopeless and helpless. Because hope, even a sliver of it, may lead to action. It can lead us to make phone calls or write letters or call our legislators.

If we feel it makes no difference and we’re doomed, we will just numb ourselves with social media or TV or alcohol or chips or outrage or whatever it is that allows us to survive these perilous times. Worst of all, we may not make the effort to vote if we think it doesn’t matter. Especially if trump has made it more difficult and confusing to cast a vote.

Our Health and Heritage Under Attack

This week, buried in the on-going chaos that is America, there was news of the trump administration’s final preparations to sacrifice to the voracious Oil God, one of America’s most sacred and iconic wilderness areas: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. Since his election, trump has taken direct aim at our natural heritage of wildlands and wildlife, and he’s undercut programs that promote clean air, clean water, and climate stability.

It’s mind-boggling how quickly he has reversed our nation’s progress and dismantled much of what I spent my thirty-year environmental career doing. This is not about me, of course, but I have to say, it hurts. And many of the people I love and served with in the environmental field have also been stunned and demoralized.

One of the longest and most intense battles of my career has been the effort to protect the Arctic Refuge from oil drilling. So when I heard the news of how close we are to losing this treasure, how trump is trying to make sure this pristine wilderness is destroyed before he leaves office, I will admit to hopelessness.

But when I wailed about it on Facebook, my dear Sierra Club friend BB wrote in response, “Resist. Organize.” He says that a lot lately. But this time it sunk in.

The Arctic Refuge
Photo: Natural Resources Defense Council

You and I Can Make a Difference

I immediately poured my pain and passion into a letter to the editor of the Washington Post to share what I know of what’s at stake in the Arctic Refuge. Off it went, and the next day The Post called to say they wanted to print it. I was so excited! You mean, I can still do something useful? I am not powerless? I can do more than march in the streets waving signs and yelling till I’m hoarse?

I desperately needed this reminder that we *all* have everyday tools that can make a difference. I’m talking to YOU! I challenge you to find something that you feel passionately about and write a letter to the editor, preferably responding to something they have recently printed. Below is my letter :

♦♦♦

“I am sickened by the Trump administration’s last-minute effort to sacrifice one of the country’s most sensitive and iconic wilderness areas to oil drilling [“Drill plan for Alaska refuge is finalized,” front page, Aug. 18]. Most Americans will never take an Alaskan bush plane north of the Arctic Circle to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Yet a clear majority opposes drilling there, honoring our nation’s generous tradition of setting aside irreplaceable parts of our natural heritage for future generations.

As director of the Sierra Club’s public lands program during the 1990s, I was privileged to visit the refuge and to celebrate the annual porcupine caribou herd migration with the Native Gwich’in community. These hardy people depend on the caribou for food, clothing and tools, just as they have for thousands of years, and their spiritual and cultural traditions revolve around the animals. They call the caribou calving grounds in the Arctic Refuge “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit,” meaning the sacred place where life begins.

 

President Trump’s desperate push to desecrate this precious and pristine piece of God’s creation before Jan. 20 dishonors indigenous culture, denies the climate crisis and gives the definitive answer to the question we have been asking for four years: Is nothing sacred to this man? No, nothing is.”

♦♦♦

And here’s a note (edited) I just received about easy and safe ways you can help make sure there is hope for the future:

  • Make calls: share your enthusiasm and hope with potential voters. You could be the reason why someone votes for Biden/Harris.
  • Download the Vote Joe App: This organizing tool allows you to reach out to organize your friends & receive updates from the Democrats.
  • Join Biden for President’s volunteer Slack: Connect with Joe Biden’s campaign and learn about the latest volunteer opportunities. You’ll meet other volunteers as well — virtually, of course!

In the words of the martyred union organizer and songwriter, Joe Hill:

Don’t Waste Time Mourning, Organize!

Courtesy: Alaska Conservation Foundation

A Mystical Take on Masks, Racism, & the 4th of July

3 Comments

As always, I have arrived at my family home in New Hampshire happily laden with books and full of dreams of writing. I intend to post here on Writing with Spirit more often, I’m working on a draft of my memoir, and I’ll begin a month-long online writing class next week. You will likely hear about some or all of these pursuits. Meanwhile, I have finished my first book of the trip, Richard Rohr’s “What The Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self.” I thought I’d share a short review because it’s rare that a “spiritual” book so completely jives with what we call “reality.”

And what a reality! As if things weren’t surreal enough lately, the President just celebrated Independence Day with a speech attacking what polls show is a majority of Americans who support the removal of confederate statues from places of honor. He aggressively stoked fear and hatred and division. But all this is nothing new. As he tries to distract us from the deadly pandemic that worsens daily, there will no doubt be more race-baiting and ugliness emanating from the White House.

Orange Fireworks

But back to the book:

I liked this little book. If you’ve read much Richard Rohr, you will find it familiar, with good reason: it’s a book of excerpts from his other writings. I could quibble with the structure of “Mystics;” the “seven pathways” seem forced and kind of random. This is probably because the editor who came up with the idea died part way through the writing, so I think the big picture may have been lost. But since the readings are in small bites, and the book doesn’t pretend to be a straight narrative, the structure isn’t too distracting, and there are plenty of wonderful Rohr nuggets throughout. This makes a fine daily reader for meditation and journaling, and I think I’ll be using it for years to come.

If you haven’t read Rohr, I recommend “Everything Belongs,” my favorite. But “Mystics” is a decent summary of his beliefs about spiritual growth and enlightenment, including growing out of our egoic self-preoccupations and into more compassionate non-dualistic thinking, less “othering” and judging.

It’s unusual for a “mystical” book to track so directly with the day’s headlines, but it’s impossible not to think about my fellow Americans refusing to wear masks because it “infringes on their freedom” when doing so would literally save the lives of others — talk about sick egos! Or about millions of white people yammering about their their precious “heritage” of slave-holding while demonizing black people being murdered in our streets and jails by law enforcement officials. Some seem more concerned about statues made of stone than their fellow citizens made of flesh and blood. Wrong color flesh, it seems.

Also timely, the last section of Father Rohr’s book centers on transforming others and society, and is hopeful but realistic. He recognizes that in North America, “our economy, our self-image, our very psyche have lived in a triumphalist and paranoid stance for so long that it will be hard to change to a positive and creative mode . . . a new way of living based on faith instead of fear, peacemaking instead of moneymaking, community instead of competition.”

May it be so!

 

Writing of Racism and Pandemics

5 Comments

Everybody says I must write. It’s what writers do. Words help us make sense of the world. Words can comfort and calm or inspire and challenge, all of which are sorely needed in this moment.

It’s just that I’m having trouble writing. I write in my journal most days, as I have for fifty years (??!!) but I mean writing for consumption by others. I had written a nice, hopeful blog back in May, before all hell broke lose in the white world — because of course “all hell” has been lose in the black world for a long, long time. The blog was about how COVID-19 is teaching us to appreciate the simple things and to live in the present moment. It started out thusly:

“‘Plan Ahead with Confidence!’ shouts the red banner ad splashed across my screen. I laugh out loud. I remember planning. I have years of journals filled with various versions of it: What, when, how, with whom? Nowadays the only thing I’m able to plan is my grocery list, which feels outlandishly vital. I know exactly what I’m going to get (if the shelves aren’t bare) and it’s all written in aisle-order so that I don’t waste any time wandering around with all those scary masked vectors who used to be my innocuous neighbors.

My grocery list gives me a sense of control in this time when so little is in my control, least of all, the future. Of course, the future never was in my control, but somehow planning gave me the illusion of control. In reality, all we ever have is this present moment, but these COVID days have made us more aware of this truth.”

. . . And then I prattled on about the present moment, how lovely it is to bake bread, how walking is sweet therapy, how my neighbors probably started their new gardens out of a survival instinct, but are learning to love digging in the dirt and watching seedlings sprout. Etc. It was a “nice” blog, which now reeks of white privilege to me.

Things Aren’t Nice Anymore

Since the week of May 25th, when George Floyd was slowly, tortuously murdered by a policeman in front of the whole world and we witnessed intentional, vicious white privilege in the form of a safe, professional white-lady-dog-walker, things aren’t so nice. The thin veneer of niceness that separated white reality from black reality has, at long last, been splintered into sharp shards. The President of the United States is using those shards to slash whatever vestige of American unity might have remained.

Local artist’s portrayal of George Floyd

Sitting in my living room tapping on my laptop keys seems pointless.

Instead, I’ve been on Zoom calls about systemic racism and white privilege, I’ve ordered books and more books, I’ve joined Facebook groups that help white people understand that their reality is not the only reality. I’ve had honest and uncomfortable conversations with my black friends. I’ve attended four socially distanced, masked protest vigils in my community and at my church, not wanting to risk COVID at the protests in D.C. 

Writing a New Story

 

I’m taking an online class called The New Story Community, about imagining a new human story based not on power and domination, but on community and cooperation. A speaker named Melvin Bray really resonated with me (if you click on that link, begin at 10:05). Melvin teaches that simply trying to change minds and hearts won’t dismantle racism. By the time you get to the emotional stage, it’s too late. Because racism started for reasons of gain and profit, not hatred or fear. Once you’ve enslaved a bunch of people and committed genocide against some others, you have to backfill with a rationale for your actions. So you conclude that those people are “less than . . . sub-human . . . beasts . . . need to be civilized,” or better yet, “saved” by your religion. From that rationale is created your society’s myth, the story that dictates how you live, and your emotions and beliefs. Hence, if you start with emotions and beliefs like white hatred and fear, you’re way too late. You have to start with action —  a “doing” — because that’s what started the cycle of racism.

 

These are not times for inaction or silence, and I feel restless and impatient. I pray and I meditate and I implore the cosmos, “What’s my part, what’s my role, what am I to DO?” And two words keep coming back to me: truth and write.

Writing Truth

Truth is a hard one, especially when we are experiencing a pandemic of lying, concealment, and “alternative facts.” Real truth, though, is an inner thing. It only comes when you still yourself, open your grasping hands, and sit with the grief and pain of losing whatever myths you believed about yourself and/or the world. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” I believe this, and I also believe that when anyone escapes their fearful, ego-centered thinking and opens their heart to true oneness and compassion, they are connecting with the same spirit I find in Jesus, no matter what they label it. 

So getting to truth is complicated, and confused with “reality” and “right and wrong” and “proof” and all the rest. 

But writing? Writing I can do. It’s what I’m called to do. I pray that my words and the spirit behind them will add mercy and kindness and truth to the world. I also pray that grief, confusion, cynicism, fear, outrage, guilt, and despair do not keep me from being who I’m meant to be and doing what I’m meant to do. Amen.

Amen

Grocery Shopping in the Time of COVID-19

13 Comments

Who would ever have imagined that grocery shopping could be such a stressful experience? Or that there would be a dozen articles published with conflicting advice about how to do it?

Go now, quick, before there are more cases!

Wait as long as you possibly can.

Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask.

Run in, grab a few things, make a dash for the exit. Stock up with enough to last you for an age.

Disinfect your groceries, don’t disinfect your groceries.

Just making my list this morning was harrowing. Putting it all in order so that I can make a direct run down every aisle, not retracing my steps, not pondering brands or quantity, avoiding other humans at all costs. How fast can I select a mango? Will there even be mangos? If there aren’t mangos, should I go for pineapple or oranges? Will there even be pineapples or oranges?

And marshmallows. Where do they keep the marshmallows? I never buy marshmallows. Do I really need them? My neighbor and I had a fire pit the other night, and we roasted the rock-hard ones she found in the back of her pantry. Actually, we had two separate fire pits, eight feet apart so neither one of us would be the cause of the other’s death.

Strange Times, Indeed

The last time I went grocery shopping, I stood in front of the honey jars and cried. I couldn’t decide which kind to buy, and I was scared. I was taking too long. Every other shopper looked like a landmine. A safe and familiar place had become a dangerous battleground.

Today I’m especially nervous because I hadn’t planned to go, so I’m not mentally prepared. Though some of my neighbors are shopping every few days, it’s been two-plus weeks for me, and I could easily make it another week. But my prescription has run out, so I’ve got to enter the combat zone anyway. May as well suck it up and do this thing.

I’m going to wear a mask, even though it’ll make me feel silly. Plus they seem to have become controversial, as has everything since the ascension of the Divider in Chief. I don’t want to get into the politics of masks here, I’ll just note that it’s criminally obscene that our government cannot equip our hospitals — at least not if a particular governor isn’t bowing down to the man who fancies himself King of America.

Right now, I cannot even think about that man’s incompetence and purposeful viciousness. I need all my energy to confront the produce aisle.

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: