The Darkest Night 

In response to something I shared on my timeline, a friend had the following response:

“Ya know what would be even better? If people would get over it and become united again like we were 8 years ago…….”

It sparked a lot of thought and great conversation, that deserves a wider audience than being hidden in our comment thread.

You may not know, but I moved back east from KS one month after September 11. It took us the better part of a week, between weather and my then-husband driving a U-Haul, while I had the animals in my car with me. But everywhere along the way we saw the best of our grieving nation. Flags everywhere. At rest areas and motels we found professional truck drivers willing to help guide us into parking spaces. I even experienced the serendipity of tuning to a new radio station somewhere in Illinois and hearing an interview with our own minister from the church home we had just left behind!

So yes, I agree with you that being united is wonderful. It’s our nature to turn toward one another in times of great grief and great joy.

Here’s the thing though:

It cannot be forced.

I shared a post from a friend the other day who wrote of her utter despair and fear.  She is one of literally millions of our fellow citizens who is frightened to her core by what has already been unleashed in the utter nastiness and divisiveness of the campaign.

To meet her fear and that of the millions like her with “get over it” is to add the insult of gross misunderstanding on top of systemic injustice.

I’m not saying that you or anyone is “to blame.”

What I am saying is we as a nation, like it or not, are in a dark night of the soul. We might as well do the work that this time demands of us, both individually and collectively, so that perhaps someday we can heal our divisions enough to remember that what unites us is far stronger than what divides us.

My cousin then posted this incredible video by an Emerson student that helps explain it for us white women who may not understand fully why people can’t just “get over it already.”

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i7Diu5CjvqU
Seems appropriate for Solstice, the longest darkness of the year.

We have skills and tools to navigate the darkness, if we remember to reach out for each other with compassion and openness.

5 Awful Mistakes Bloggers Make

Good thoughts here. I for one am one of those rare birds who actually DO enjoy the process of editing. However, I cannot disagree with anything in her list!

Alexis Chateau

Blogging isn’t rocket science, but it can certainly start to feel like it, as you struggle to find the magic formula that takes you from a handful of subscribers to hundreds of thousands. The truth is: there is no magic formula. Building a blog takes a lot of time, effort, creativity, and even capital investment. It doesn’t just become a success overnight.

Even so, there are some awful mistakes many new bloggers make that can turn attracting and keeping followers into an ordeal. If you’re not guilty of these, then you’re likely already on the right track. If not, it might just be time for a change.

Disrespecting Readers

There will always be a handful of readers – or more – who disagree with the opinions you put forward on your blog. There will also be trolls who come along looking for anything to disagree with, just for the hell of it.

While…

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Compassion, not condemnation 

NBC News published an article recently about an effort at East Carolina University to meet the needs of its students by offering them an “Adulting” course – to teach them what they need to know in order to be self-sufficient adults. See the original article here.

One idea immediately jumped out at me.  The university’s counseling center said in the past they used to see a lot more depression.  For the past few years they have noticed a sharp uptick in the numbers of students seeking help for anxiety.

A lightbulb went on in my head as I read.  I remembered a lecture I heard a few years ago by renowned trauma specialist Bessel van der Kolk.  He told the story about a family that underwent a traumatic incident.  There were several children in the family, including a nine-month old baby in the other room.  Years later, it was that baby who was most impacted still with symptoms of trauma, completely undermining our assumption that children aren’t affected by what they are too young to understand.

Today’s college freshman were two- or three-year-olds that their parents scooped up and held close on that day fifteen years ago.  Whether or not they were exposed to the images on TV, they were surely exposed to their parents’ fear and horror.  Such strong emotions in their caregivers cannot help but have an impact on their developing brains.

Is is any wonder then, that they are experiencing anxiety in record numbers?  Or that their parents, faced with their own unconscious anxiety from that day should earn the term ‘helicopter parents’?  A parent’s one basic job is to keep their child safe.  That day every parent watching learned how impossible that job really is.

So what can we do now with this understanding?  Be a lot more compassionate, for one.  If you read the comments to the article, many are filled with scorn for the students for being wimps, for their parents for not preparing them better and even for the school for attempting to address that lack of preparation in a proactive way.

Instead, what if we, collectively could remember how scared we were that day fifteen years ago?  Could we have compassion for these kids who were too little to understand but absorbed the energy of the day anyway?  How about for their terrified parents who understood all too well?  Could we look on their later choices in light of this realization and instead of seeing spoiled entitlement, could we see with soft eyes and realize they were doing the best they knew to do the impossible?

I think we could.

#trauma

 

We belong to each other

A friend used to have a poster in her office:  A simple black circle inscribed with the words Every wound is an opening if we but let it be.

Every wound is  an opening if we but let it be.

I’m not so sure whether that is true.  What I do know at this moment, is that We the People are grievously wounded.

I have friends posting on Facebook that they can’t stop crying.

Too much violence in too short a period of time.  The preternatural calm of traumatized voices describing the indescribable horror.

Seven dead.

Two black men in separate incidents Louisiana and Minnesota; five police officers in Dallas at the hands of a sniper at the end of a peaceful protest.

In many spiritual traditions around the world, seven is a number of completion.

Can we be done with killing each other now?  Please?

“All things are connected like the blood that unites us.  We did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”

Today is a time for grieving, for holding one another, for taking the first step toward healing.

That step ties in perfectly with the automatic female stress response:  Tend and Befriend. 

Oxytocin is sometimes called the “love hormone” partly because it is  released by couples when they are in love.  It is also produced in enormous amounts in women who have given birth.  In studies done at Harvard University, researchers have discovered that everyone, both men and women, releases the hormone oxytocin as part of the “cocktail” of hormones we produce when under stress or trauma.  However, the effects of  testosterone blunt the effects of the hormone.  So men are more likely to engage in the classic “fight or flight” response.”  Women’s response, hardwired into our neurochemistry, is to tend and befriend – to take care of the children and one another.

So I feel my friends’ pain, nearly as keenly as if it were my own.  Yet because I am at a bit of a remove, I am more able to shift into holding space, bearing witness to her pain and the collective rage and grief we all feel.

I have no answers.  To suggest there are easy answers is to insult the depth of pain and grief and outrage.

Tonight I pray and sing,  I drum and cry and I send my love and light from my home in Rhode Island to Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas, as well as to the hurting hearts of my fellow Americans.