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You can take the woman out of the pulpit,
but you can’t take the preaching out of the woman.
Or, to put it in the words of a long-time friend,
“Do you ever shut up?”
I actually do, but I am beginning to think that silence
may not be what we are looking for between now and 2020.
So, I want to encourage you to practice speaking your truth,
sharing your story, admitting your secrets,
and giving permission for others to speak their truth
and share their stories.
Since the election, I have heard more than a few people say,
“I was abused as a child…”
“I chose an abortion after I was raped…”
“I was beaten by a police officer…”
“I’ve known I was LGBTQ since I was 10, but I’ve never told anyone…”
“…I feel like I need to speak out.”
Yes. Yes, each of us needs to tell our truth –
to the people who may share that truth
and to the people who think they have never met anyone ‘like that.’
Yes, this takes courage. I wish I could make it easy, but it isn’t.
And to make it just the teeniest bit harder, I have to agree with J. K. Rowling:
It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies,
but just as much to stand up to our friends.
Yes, it is serious. The situation is serious….
and we are still not getting appropriate investigative reporting
on very serious conflicts of interest in our new administration.
However, we are all going to burn out on anxiety
if we don’t lighten up just a little.
Epictetus (…who, you may ask?) observed,
We are not worried by real problems
so much as by our imagined anxieties about real problems.
[Read it again. Memorizing it wouldn’t be bad.
It’s a pretty savvy mantra.] We can solve real problems, folks.
The human animal was designed and programmed to solve problems.
What we can’t do is get any creative traction
while locked in an amorphous fog of generalized anxiety.
I’d like to gently suggest that we stop thrashing
(which is using an inordinate amount of energy)
and pick our cause.
Trust me, there are plenty to go around!
Then let’s educate ourselves about what is needed
and use all that redirected thrashing energy to make some inroads.
P.S. Remember that we are in this for the long haul.
It isn’t a ‘diet’, it’s a lifestyle change so we need to pace ourselves.
[The photo is the amazing Alebrije that lived at DIA for a season. I think we need to envision ourselves as fantastical warriors with spectacular crests and ruffs.]
There is a group of knitters –
with over 2000 members worldwide –
called ‘Knot a Problem.’
This group salvages tangled skeins of yarn
(as well as strings of lights, nets and cords, anything tangled)
simply for the cost of shipping – the untangling is free.
Think of what gets saved from the trash.
It occurs to me that many more of us could practice ‘untangling’.
(Yes, I know I suggested tangling just a few posts ago,
but sometimes one is needed and sometimes the other.)
It doesn’t need to be yarn;
we can practice truth-telling which untangles confusion.
Or patience – which untangles stress.
Or compassion – which untangles our hearts from stereotyping.
Or careful discernment – which untangles us from unhealthy beliefs.
Clarity can untangle us from the need to blame.
Love can untangle us from the toxic bonds of shame
and from the paralysis of fear.
The news at the moment is (perhaps deliberately) very tangled.
It is worth it to untangle the knots and look carefully
at what has gotten tied to what (or who to whom).
A lot will depend on this skill.
We can do it not only for free, but to be free.
The observant and and forward-thinking urban planner,
William Hollingsworth Whyte,
who also wrote the books, The Organization Man
and Is Anyone Listening?
had this to say,
The great enemy of communication
is the illusion of it.
My pondering, as we hover on the cusp of 2017,
is how much the illusion of communication
that marks most social media
has created the situation in which we find ourselves.
Maybe real, honest, direct face-to-face talking and listening
is a skill we need to relearn and practice assiduously.
Turning (to) Green
There are some common threads running through
the suggestions I have received from some of you
about how you are coping with the anxiety or fear or despair
in which you find yourself.
‘I bought six green plants in a week. Am I over-doing it?’
‘Plant an amaryllis bulb. Care for something beautiful.’
‘I go visit the arboretum in all four seasons.’
‘If you have two pennies, buy a flower with one. I do.’
Actually there have been several studies done
that confirm that 15 minutes of looking at green things each day
will reset your brain, bringing calm and creativity.
While I don’t think any of you live in a tropical rain forest,
most of us have evergreens somewhere in our landscape.
So turn (to) green.
If you don’t like cut flowers, buy an herb
(which is practical as well as beautiful).
If you are afraid you will kill an amaryllis, try kalanchoe.
[And if you haven’t responded, let me know if this is because you are so deep in despair,
you have no coping mechanisms at the moment.
Otherwise, send your ideas – there is no telling what will work for someone else.]
I am weary with the burdens of control.
I am weary of shepherding my flock of worries.
I am weary of being pregnant with possibility.
Let the birthwaters break and lift me on your living flood.
Let them sweep away my need to obsess and control.
Let possibility become.
May it be so.
Last Sunday, those of us
from most of the Western Christian traditions
began Advent….the time of expectant waiting with Mary
through those final, heavy, burdensome weeks before giving birth.
A friend and colleague gave me the most marvelous
book as a meditation guide for this season:
All Creation Waits by Gayle Boss.
If you are a nature lover or a Whole Earth geek,
you want this book.
If you are dealing with endings or loss or dormancy,
you want this book.
If you would like to approach Advent with a slightly
different perspective on attentive waiting,
you want to get this book.
I invite you to join me in reading one entry a day
as December unfolds.
The extraordinary Coco Chanel has these words for the world:
The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.
Text © 2016, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2015, 2016 Immram Chara, LLC