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If you will forgive me for pointing it out,
we have gotten a little out of touch with reality in North America.
We citizens of the USA are facing the consequences of an election
that is (for many of us) truly unsettling,
but we are acting as if there has never been a tragedy of this magnitude
in the history of the world.
[Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond concerned about the next four
or – G-d forbid – eight years.
But our willingness to live in illusion got us here…
some fairly serious truth-telling and -living can get us out.] So I would like to suggest that we get some perspective.
Kerry Kennedy Cuomo wrote an extraordinary book in 2000
called Speak Truth to Power.
In it, she tells the stories of 50 human rights defenders around the globe.
If some of us think Donald Trump is as bad as it gets,
we need to think again.
And we need to be inspired by women and men who put their lives
(their literal, physical lives) on the line every single day.
In this dark time of the year as we await the solstice,
let’s bring some light to our fears
and some clarity to our illusions
and begin 2017 with courage and vision.
We will need both courage and vision, but we can do this, folks.
Just the Facts
Prejudice is a great time saver.
You can form opinions without having to get the facts.
(E. B. White)
Which suggests that I may be required
to spend some of my (immensely valuable) time
paying attention to what is actually happening
(and not merely the bits that conveniently affirm
what I’d like to think is happening.)
Someone has to be willing to remember the difference
between facts and opinions,
and opinions and prejudices.
That sounds like a good task for a crone.
Raising the Shield
I will confess that I am having a hard time
keeping my heart centered
and my tone of voice close to neutral.
Someone I otherwise like
has chosen to send my snippy stories, fake quotes,
and outright lies about Hillary Clinton.
(Several of them from Russian propaganda sources…)
I have asked to be removed from his mailing list.
Yes, I can block him, but I wanted to give him
the opportunity to respond with courtesy
and mutual respect.
He has not taken that opportunity and I have run out of maturity.
So I have been saying my Prayer of Protection over and over.
In case you have misplaced your copy and need it again,
here it is again:
I enfold myself
in the nine protections of nature
stillness of rabbit,
vision of owl,
speed of cheetah,
roots of oak,
flexibility of birch,
enclosure of willow,
depth of ocean,
darkness of cave,
nurture of grain and grape.
These nine I draw about myself
in the face of danger,
in the confusion of fear,
in the time of violence.
The OED (Oxford English Dictionary) word for 2016 is ‘post-truth.’
I am going to invite you to just sit with that.
I don’t actually know how to respond.
Watching the election in the USA,
reading the news since then,
I understand the word and its meaning,
but I don’t know where to go from here.
During the election, I spoke about the Big Lie…
but I didn’t really believe (not really) that
we might reach a point where people
neither recognized the truth
nor cared whether what they were
hearing and seeing was actually true.
It never occurred to me that educated people
(I am talking post-graduate degrees here, folks –)
would simply accept what they heard as true…
even from the mouth of a pathological liar.
Anyone out there have any wisdom?
I have resolved (simply for myself)
that I will adapt Thumper’s words slightly
as one of my guiding principles going forward:
If I can’t say something true,
I won’t say anything at all.
One of my favorite carols is sung
to the French tune, Besançon.
The words are by the English writer, Eleanor Farjeon.
As my torn heart turns (east) toward Aleppo,
these words bring me courage:
Stars, keep the watch.
When night is dim one more light the bowl will brim,
shining beyond the frosty weather,
bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:
Love the star is on the way.
I need all the light I can gather in these days.
May you find light in friends, in music, in candles
and stars and warm tea and the scent of pine.
Vespers on December 17 is the service
at which the first of the Great ‘O’s is sung:
O Sapientia (O Wisdom).
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other,
mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
Each of the seven addresses Jesus by one of his messianic titles.
You can find the seven HERE
with both the Latin and English words.
But we are not limited to the titles used by ancient monks.
So, what seven titles or descriptors would you use
to describe the Holy One?
Or what seven attributes of divinity do you most want to embody?
[Hebrew and Christian scripture tell us we are created in G-d’s image, after all.] As we come to the end of the calendar year,
it might be good to begin to focus ourselves toward holy and whole
living in the new year…
…and therefore to name those qualities we most wish to practice.
The genius of early Christianity was its flexibility
and its gracious translation into the vernacular
of the cultural context in which it landed.
Thus, for instance, we have the birth of Jesus
coinciding with Solstice and the return of the light.
It is a flexibility and adaptability
that has been dangerously lacking in many times and places
since the (marginalized and persecuted) followers of the Way
suddenly became the chosen religious sect of the empire.
Hierarchy and the power of the status quo
do not usually go hand in hand with flexibility and freedom of thought.
I have been painfully aware of a return to rigid beliefs in many of the world’s religions
as social media has created a false intimacy across the globe –
which has threatened many and led an equal number
to believe they understand a lot more than they really do.
I have been equally aware of my own fear and anger
and the tightrope I walk in trying to be inclusive
even of those who denigrate my values and
want to exclude people my G-d tells me belong at the table.
Today, as my husband and I decorated our Christmas tree,
and hung the crêche from my mother’s childhood,
I remembered the words of Lucy in C S Lewis’ The Last Battle,
“In our world, too,
a Stable once held something inside it
that was bigger than our whole world.”
And I try to keep my heart as big as that stable.
Text © 2016, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2011, 2015, 2016 Immram Chara, LLC