A wisp of grey cloud is passing across the waning half moon as I sit this morning in my chair in the corner of the living room waiting for the sunrise. (Yes, it seems the rain is done for a while.) The moon disappears then reappears again and again, until finally the cloud passes; the moon wins.
My energy to write a blog post has been like that the past few days. I get an inspiration, then let it go. Something related pops up and I think again I will write something. Then let it go. This morning another related post was in my mailbox when I got up before dawn. The writing wins.
One day last week, I read two blog posts that had been sitting for several days in my inbox. Little points of light in the wilderness. I thought then I would just share them and call it a post. But then, on my drive to yoga, listening to Hive Mind, the audio book I quoted last week, another voice spoke to me.
“It’s like baseball,” the author writes, “and studies bear out the theory.” I paraphrase: If you are a Red Sox fan and you are talking to a die-hard White Sox fan, and you just extol the virtues of your team, the other person will go into defensive mode and shut you out. But if you open with how magnificently the White Sox played in their last game, the other person will loosen their hold on their own view—and so will you—and real conversation opens up. There was much more about the studies, but you get the idea.
One of the blog posts I read last week was from Karen Maezen Miller, a Buddhist priest whose writing I love. She writes of kindness and of trying to understand each other.
“Around here now, the paths are swept, the ponds are clear, and all the things that fell or broke are stacked in piles four feet high. We go on, you see. We get through. The way forward is hardly ever what we want to do or where we want to go, but it brings us back. Thank you for understanding. Understanding each other goes a long way.” Karen Maezen Miller (“After the Winds.“)
The sun shone one day last week and I went out with rake and wheelbarrow to get a jump on post-winter clean-up. I raked up branches and twigs from along the driveway then got out the flat shovel and scraped the decaying leaves and fir needles from the edge of the pavement before it turned into soil. Because I did both jobs last spring, they were much easier this year.
We despair because the country seems to be in reverse mode. All the good work of my lifetime feels like it’s for naught. But surely this has been the pattern for eons. We clean up in the spring, winter comes, we clean up again in an endless cycle. But the work that went before is still there, and because of it we get back on track more easily. And maybe we learn something along the way to make it even better.
The second post was offered by Christina Baldwin, my writing mentor and friend.
“One way I am surviving the current political mayhem, especially the threats to ‘self-evident truths’ that have been part of our national fabric from the beginning, is by telling myself that it is necessary for these structures to fall apart so that new structures can emerge.” Christina Baldwin (“Where Do We Go When the Story Falls Apart“)
Structures falling apart, new ones emerging. It’s the way it’s always been, hasn’t it? Gathering up the winter blowdown every spring and starting again with fresh awareness of what is all around us.
As I continued writing this post, a huge black cloud obliterated the moon, the coming sunrise but a dashed hope; rain began tapping on the roof. A few minutes later, the sky is clear and sun is lighting the edge of the cloud bank on the horizon. It doesn’t always turn out like we want, but change will always come.
Looking for Christina’s post to quote here, I came across a YouTube video of her talking about her first life work, the power of story.
“Sit down, stop and listen to each other. Once your story is really heard, you can let go of it, you can change it, you can heal from it, you can change your mind and stop having an opinion about something.” Christina Baldwin
Isn’t that also what Sarah Cavanagh says? When we don’t really listen, we cling to our own opinions and there is no space for movement. When there is no movement, there is no better world, only turmoil.
This morning another friend’s bi-monthly Sunday Coffee post was in my box. Margaret Rode is a tech genius (Websites for Good), which doesn’t seem compatible with points of light; but then, you have to know Margaret.
Margaret wrote a social media survival guide today, making the same point about social media that Sarah Rose Cavanagh makes in Hive Mind: it is both good and evil. Q: “How can we reap the best of social media without having it drain the joy from our day and replace it with tension and stress?” A: “Decide why you’re entering that world—what you want to get out of it.” Be intentional.
“When I’m tempted to start bickering with someone who’s being insulting, obstinate, pushy, or downright hateful, I try hard to remember my list . . . and to note that ‘Teach a lesson to jerks who desperately need a beat-down’ isn’t on it. Why are you out there? Get clear. Write it on a brightly-colored sticky note as a reminder when you’re tempted down the social media rabbit hole.” Margaret Rode
I’ve stopped watching the three consecutive MSNBC news shows each night that I began viewing during the impeachment trial and got hooked into. I stopped reading the news headlines on my phone every hour to see what fresh hell we are in now. I unsubscribed to “Stop Republicans,” and their pleas for $3 that I hadn’t subscribed to in the first place. It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s happening, it’s that I don’t want to be bombarded with it at every turn. It instills despair that hope is but a fading whisper in the wilderness. I’m following the points of light instead.
We are each, individually and collectively, the instruments of change. We find where we can make a difference—it’s as simple as a smile—and let go of where we can’t. Christina says, ““Keep finding places to stand in your story that allow you to thrive.”
There is light all around us. Seek it out. Smile and say a kind word. We are the beams that will bring us back.
One last point of light for the week that squeaked in at bedtime Saturday night—via FaceBook— a reminder that each voice is important, the gentle to the full-throttle, the solo guitar to the full orchestra. Meanwhile, take a breath and have a listen to Eric Clapton and Luciano Pavarotti, “Holy Mother, Hear My Cry.”