Here we are at the threshold of holiday season.
Earlier this week, on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day acknowledging the violence against and murder of Transgender individuals, a mass shooting took place in Colorado Springs at Q Club, a gay bar.
On the threshold of the holiday season, we have yet another mass shooting.
This one targeting folxs of a particular identity.
On the threshold of this holiday season, chairs will be empty at dinner tables across America due to violence.
America is in need of healing. Not the continued violence of white christian nationalism that has nothing at all to do with a loving God.
Not the continued accumulation of mass weaponry.
Not the xenophobic, homophobic, racist, misogynist cruel language, policies and actions masquerading and crusading as saviors with thoughts and prayers.
Not the violence that is the silence of the status quo.
Here at the threshold of a whitewashed holiday that precedes another holiday that honors the birth of a servant leader, let’s be real.
Can we be real without falling down the rabbit hole of despair?
Can we find our way into a heart space without bypassing the violence?
Without being complicit in our silence?
Silence supports the status quo.
Think about that.
It doesn’t mean we run into the streets shouting, although for many of us, this makes sense.
On Tuesday, November 8th, Election Day, an acquaintance said to me Back in the day growing up, we never talked about politics and religion and now that is all anyone talks about. I wish it were like it was before.
I sure as hell don’t wish that for any of us!
I would suggest we didn’t learn properly how to talk about politics, religion, any kind of difference and converse about our basic humanity. Many of us still don’t know how to have a conversation and deeply listen, let alone respect one’s identity that differs from ours and the lived experience in that identity.
I don’t expect to change anyone’s heart or mind that feels differently. I met up with a guy from my community who was casually trolling me on Facebook leading up to the 2016 election. We agreed to have a civil discussion in a public place so we met at a local coffeehouse.
He was (and likely still is) a conservative Republican with strong Libertarian leanings. Needless to see we saw very little eye to eye and he was openly disdainful of my work in the healing arts as non-productive efforts. He spoke of individual responsibility, individual liberty and the rights of the majority superseding civil rights. He did not support making space accessible for the few folxs that might need it. He shared that he did not believe that racism was as rampant as the media portrays it. (yes, he is able bodied and white in case you were wondering).
We parted without having changed anything which wasn’t the point for me. My interest lay in the possibility of engaging in civil dialogue across beliefs. It is possible AND it took resourcing my nervous system before and after.
However, I imagined after my nervous system settled, that he likely had guy stuff like snow blowers and riding lawnmowers. He likely cared about neighbors, perhaps a single mom, an elderly couple in his neighborhood and made the effort to clear walks, mow lawns and other like tasks without expecting much in return.
It is complex and messy.
So what do we do?
How do we enter the heart space?
First, we have to take care of our nervous systems and regulate.
Feel and acknowledge our emotions, allow grief.
Roll around on the floor with grief. Weep. Lament.
Tracing that grief back to the expansive heart center that holds so much love.
Lamenting is a collective experience. In that coming together, we step out of the isolation of our own experience to find community and something that is larger than us in that togetherness. This is also a way to co-regulate in community.
What are your tools? Your practices? Your rituals? Your Refuge? Your experience of co-creating Refuge?
In your community of folxs, if you are someone or one of your beloved family and/or friends feels unsafe, unheard in certain spaces, can we have these conversations with like minded people and co create opportunities to support one another?
This past week, a group of LBGTQI young people in our community held a Friendsgiving event for their community and allies. Consider hosting something like this or supporting efforts in your community.
My friend Jacoby, a trans man who teaches a yoga class for LBGTQI had cis gendered straight allies ask what they could do after the Club Q shooting, and the request was to steward and protect the queer space to make sure no one shows up with any nonsense. The request was obliged.
In my Tuesday and Saturday Sanghas, we make space for these times of heartbreak and loss. In our bodies, we locate where these challenges lie and we build our capacity. For folxs closer to the margins who are more directly impacted by the violence in our society, we hold space for their exhaustion and need to rest, a respite from hyper vigilance. This is how we move from being passive allies to active accomplices.
In 2020 when activists walked from the Midwest to Washington DC to bring attention and awareness to violence perpetuated by the state towards Black Lives, they were met with violence in a small town not too far from me.
The town square quickly became populated by white people with Confederate Flags, Trump flags and mass weaponry. Assault rifles were openly paraded through the town square.
The activists were literally captive in a hotel. Local law enforcement did nothing.
Some of us behind the scenes organized to get white bodies to get between the activists and the mob so the group could safely continue their walk to Washington DC.
Terror has no rationality other than to terrorize, to break apart, to isolate, to tear asunder that which is brilliant, strong and real.
Our systems are failing but
Living in an unwell world and being well takes clarity, strength of heart, fierce kindness, authenticity, vulnerability, resourcing oneself for discomfort, building capacity, deep listening, discernment, rest, connection, community and love.
Two nights ago, I dreamed my husband came into a room where some of us were gathered. He had with him, a lion, a lioness and another big cat that was purple, green and gold (dream cat). These large beasts had such intelligence behind their eyes and embodied a strong, fierce gentleness. In my dream, at first my nervous system was activated by the potential for being eaten alive and swallowed whole.
Instead, these giant, strong beasts sat alongside me and I felt this fierce gentle strength seeping into my pores. Sitting with the very real possibility that I could be swallowed whole and yet, there is something also underneath the jagged edges of that reality. I got underneath the surface of that to find enormous peace.
May we find one another, hold one another, support, feed, love and connect underneath the surface of all the chaos.