I'm devastated by the latest news of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. My impulse has been to reach out to hold your hand and the hands of all those I know and love. My longing is to gather us in circle. To be sad, to be mad, to be in collective dialogue about our pain. To sit in silence together.
I keep asking and looking up for some guidance, what can we do? What do we do? The typical responses; to protest, to donate, to write letters, all this to me seems too on the surface of things. I want to scratch my face and pull out my hair. I want to yell at the gods and the politicians. I want to blame this culture of not tending to our most vulnerable.
By this time in my life I know that when things get urgent, I need to slow down and listen. To pay attention to what this critical moment is really asking of me and us. And so I've gotten really quiet. I've gotten quiet and I've gotten on my knees and prayed.
What is happening at the core in our country? What is at the root of this violence, this increasing turbulence? Why are the most vulnerable being targeted? Our black and brown and Asian bodies, our young ones, our old ones? What are we being to called to?
When I reflect in this way I see and feel a legacy of grief. Grief that has not been named, or talked about, or tended to, generations of grief. Grief that comes of amends that have not been made, no formal acknowledgement of lands that have been stolen, or of a nation built on slavery. Grief from a disconnection with the earth, with our selves and with all of our relations. Grief from the hurt we have caused.
I'm aware that tending to this grief, sitting in and with it and not looking away seems like some kind of radical action these days. To create space, to connect with grief, to admit that no, we are not okay and yes we need help. Not with a medication to bandaid the feelings, though there may be a place for this too, but a real coming to terms with what doesn't feel good.
This past week we had a birthday sunrise sweat lodge for a dear friend. As the stones came in, one by one for each year, I asked her to remember those years and share with us what was moving in her life at those times. This friend, a spiritual sister, found it easy to give gratitude for all the blessings and teachings she had received. She described the various people and practices and gave thanks for each and every one of them. It was powerful to hear, and as she was speaking I was feeling something underneath the gratitude that wanted to be recognized as well.
I encouraged her to give voice to the difficult places she had journeyed through, so that we could be witness to these spaces and places in her and acknowledge them in ourselves. As she began to describe the exquisite loneliness and depression of her twenties, something very deep began to shift for all of us in the lodge. Yes, we were able to be there and witness with her those times and to feel them in ourselves. That was part of it. But what feels even more true is that in bringing the shadow to light she and we were embracing the Wholeness of all of life. That dis-ease she had experienced pushed her to map her way out, to find spiritual ways and paths that supported her in piecing herself back together. It was important to acknowledge those shadows as teachers as well.
How do we become Whole again after great tragedy and trauma? I believe that a first step is to be with the pain and discomfort. Often, when I'm treating people in chronic pain, there is a moment when we get to deep grief. This is the watershed moment. When heart wrenching sobs and tears appear, the deep seated pain finally begins to move.
Little sacred ones were taken from us. Again. Children, the hope of a nation, the hope of their families, the dreams of their ancestors. No child from the Uvalde community will ever be the same. No child, no parent, no one of us who knows what happened will be the same again. The possibility that this could happen to any one of us lies in waiting in the corners of our mind. What was impossible is shoved with ferocity back into the possible. Many of us may slip back into denial, but that is a privilege that fewer and fewer of us are able to take. We are all affected. We are all related.
And what to do? Yes, I wish for a different kind of government, that places mothers and fathers and families and children at the center of its concerns. Where decisions serve a shared yearning and vision for a sustainable future. Where we get really clear on the systems of harm, where we stop the blaming and shaming and making others wrong and we spend more of our time tending to those whose needs are most dire. Where the Earth and the Water hold a vital role on the council and our decisions are made for ALL of our relations. Where we create space and place for grief, for rage, for dissonance and disharmony and we have safe places to allow ourselves to unravel so we can eventually be woven back together again with new integration and understanding.
I wish to take RADICAL ACTION with you. I want to mourn with you. I want to sit together and not look away from the pain. I will not deny my own heartbreak or yours either. I will not close down, shut off and find a way to not care.
I wish for this for each one of us, in our bodies, in our families and in our shared community. That we can be still when things feel urgent, that we can get curious when we feel challenged, and that we pay attention to what these critical moments are calling for. That we can make the amends necessary in our own lives and that we don't hesitate to love.
We're in this together.