At the beginning of yoga this week, my teacher hesitantly but firmly spoke her mind about the Supreme Court’s overthrow of Roe v. Wade. I can’t recall exactly what she said in her dissent, but as I sat on my mat weeping, I realized her message to me was that we must come out of our closets, all of them. Too many times I fail to share my beliefs, not wanting to offend those who disagree with me or argue a point; feeling like it’s not their business anyway. I surround myself with like-minded people, because it’s easier.
My teacher said she had been nauseated all weekend. Yes. Me too. I have spent most of the past six years being outraged and fearful, beginning with the blocking of Obama’s nominee for SCOTUS a full year before the next presidential election (the one in which the most unqualified person in history was sworn in, and would eventually put three people on the supreme court, changing the course of history for generations), and then that same body pushing a nominee through a mere month before the 2020 election. The pandemic and its mishandling. The four-year reign of terror and horror, the mockery of the presidency, the crumbling of the shining beacon of democracy that this country is to the world. The insurrection. Ukraine, and Russian aggression. Buffalo and Uvalde. The overturning (also last week) of a century-old concealed weapon law.
But Friday’s overthrow of Roe v. Wade was different. I have felt nauseated. I don’t have granddaughters, but if I did, the knowledge that they would not have the legal control of their own bodies that their grandmother had as a young woman is outrageous! If we don’t have legal control of our bodies, what do we have? What else matters? Well, and that is part of my nausea, what is next? The right to marry whomever you want does affect my family. The right to birth control does affect my family. The right to attend public school and not be forced to pray to a Christian god does affect my family.
Much of the hour in yoga was spent trying to keep both my mask (no longer required on the mat, but I and most still wear one) and my hearing aid on my left ear. When I put the aid back over my ear, the mask loop popped off. When I looped it back on, the aid came off. All the while crying in frustration and despair; wanting all these balls to stay in the air, that others want to bring crashing down; not knowing what I can do about it. Helpless. Hopeless.
But one thing I decided I can do is stop being silent about who I am and what I believe. I’m coming out of the closet, here at the end of PRIDE month—all my closets. So here it is.
Sexuality: I came out about my sexuality nearly thirty years ago, but since I moved across the country to my new old home, there has been little reason to reveal myself. I am a lesbian. That I have been (contentedly) single for nearly twenty years doesn’t change that.
Politics: Democrat, liberal, far left. Farther all the time.
Second amendment: I don’t like, have never liked, guns. I have no objection to killing animals for food; but for sport, no. And I object strongly to noise pollution; it violates my right to quiet. So take your target practice into a soundproof building. (When I recently called the sheriff’s office with a complaint about constant gunfire near my home just outside the city limits, the deputy told me, rather smugly, “that’s why people live in the country, so they can shoot a gun on their property.” And no, that the reason I live in the country is for quiet, doesn’t matter; that it gives me a stomach ache, doesn’t matter.) And there is no reason on earth for anyone other than a “well-trained militia” in time of war to have a semi-automatic weapon. The second amendment is misinterpreted by gun lovers, to the detriment and safety of all Americans, and against “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Religion: I no longer consider myself a Christian. I do believe in a higher being, one with many names and without gender, the Creator of good and beauty in the world. I do not believe the One Who Is More “blesses” one person by leaving their home standing in a tornado and, by implication that make me bristle, has not blessed the neighbor whose house was leveled. I believe Jesus—like Gandhi, the Buddha, the Dalai Lama, and others—was put on earth to be a light and a teacher, but I do not believe he was literally the virgin-birthed son of God. I do not believe in Satan or hell. I do believe in Spirit. We have lost the way, not because of lack of allegiance or faith in a god, but because we have failed ourselves and failed to follow the light of love.
The Bible and the Constitution: The bible is a pretty great story book with lessons to be learned; written by men, not by the finger of God. There is much in it that is not applicable to what we now know of the world. That’s why there is a new testament (and should be a newer one). The Constitution is a document outlining the country’s founders’ intent at inception; it is still worthy of respect. But it too was written in and for another time and that’s why there are twenty-seven amendments. There probably needs to be more, but in these divided days, where elected officials have drunk the Kool-Aid, best not go there.
The Pledge of Allegiance: It’s been a long time since I have spoken the pledge of allegiance to the flag, not because I don’t love my country, but because I think the pledge is a violation of the first amendment and the principles on which this country was founded, and because I see every day how there is not liberty and justice for all. And because we clearly are divisible, I’m thinking now about taking a knee, or at least remaining seated, until we figure that out.
When I left yoga, I went to sit on the dock of the bay, breathe the salty air, absorb the snow-capped Olympics on the horizon, watch the gulls float over the sailboat masts. An eagle soared over too, reminding me I love this country, and I look for the day—I hope it’s in my lifetime, but it may not be—she finds her way back to the shining beacon we can be to the world; reminding me that I must be part of the way.
Mary Pipher wrote in the New York Times today: “We find ways to balance our despair with joy. We reach out to our friends and family. We find a way to help another person. Action is always an antidote to despair.” I had already begun.
When I got home from yoga, I responded to Washington senator Maria Cantwell’s request, sending a small donation, half of which goes to her campaign and half to the campaigns of democratic candidates in swing states. And I sent another small donation to Planned Parenthood, to be split between the national organization and the greater Washington one. And I write down the story. It seems small and insignificant. But if everyone does what they can, we can be a mighty voice.
Today I walked up to the long line at the strawberry stand. I passed an elderly woman sitting on the tailgate of her car. When I smiled at her, she said, “I can’t stand in this line.” I offered to get her berries for her. She gave me her check and fifteen minutes later I put a flat in the back of her car, accepting her gratitude for my kindness. I returned to my car feeling like I had made a difference to someone. A very small deed that cost me nothing. And gained me everything.