I saw Moonlight last night, an incredible film that placed me squarely in the life of a gay black young man growing up in a drug drenched neighborhood. In her review, Carla Meyer commented on the movie’s conclusion: “Because an insistence on hope is as much a part of the American psyche as the demand for uninterrupted liberty.” I loved this movie, the way it ended and how it reminded me of my own journey toward hope this week. I was as far as you can get from hope when I woke Wednesday morning. In an unusual scheduling twist, I had zero obligations until class that night. I stayed in my pajamas all day, grateful for a witnessing awareness that kept me processing as the day passed…I travelled light years in the space of a few hours. Maybe you caught this Facebook post already, documenting that journey:
Woke at four this morning , each time I remembered to breathe, I wept some more. Empty, wiped clean, strangely calm. The headline spread upon my lap serves to evoke deep feelings cycling through me. I witness each emotion rise, peak, fall away. I watch, I breathe. Fear and her gloomy sister, despair are the two that rise again and again. I keep courageously surfing this pair across the immense divide. My own fear and despair connect me with half of this nation. Those citizens I have rejected, discounted, ridiculed. People I can barely acknowledge, somehow feel more evolved than, superior to. Human beings just like me. Shielded in this big bubble we call California. And so this is where the shit hits the spiritual fan, my loves. Practice is over. This is where it gets real. I believe in the basic goodness of all sentient beings. And that includes this new president and all the fearful, despairing people who are just like me that voted for him. Every cell in my body knows fear and despair. We are all suffering and we are all human. May all beings be well. May all beings be at peace. May all beings be a force for unity in this very needy world. And since it is what I do, I’ll dance tonight. I’ll hold space at Clara so community can gather and feel this together. I don’t know how I’ll do that. But I’m willing to show up, feel my feet on the ground, breathe and move and pray and be open to the healing that happens every time we do this.
And we have danced. Each time despair and anguish and pessimism arise, I keep moving, using the suffering to create art that bridges the great divide. A trail of tears to connect with these “other people”. Human beings who have children, gather for the holidays, walk their dogs, cherish their loved ones…and are also frustrated with an ineffective and broken political process. We only have to go one crisis back, consider Standing Rock, yesterday’s situation d’jour. We are all so busy finger pointing at the Feds and the oil companies as we complacently continue with lifestyles that create a situation like this. We don’t think twice about our perceived need for everything from airline travel to blow driers (including myself here!) even as we voice our protest about environmental rape. When I heard that Obama was planning to re-route the pipeline so that it was not on sacred land I about fell over. What land is NOT sacred? See above about ineffective and broken. The frustration we all share is yet another unifying element for the populace.
And what about hope? I had the privilege of dancing with Kathy Altman on Saturday and for the umpteenth time danced the Buddhist-inspired dragon gate. Three dancers taking a turn at three stations. On one end of the gate, all the shapes of hope. On the other, all the shapes of hopelessness. In the middle? An opportunity to dance this polarity. With ease, I fell into despair as I held one end. It was anger so muted by sadness that it just collapsed. The weight of it never allowed me to rise past my knees, small sobbing movements. It felt familiar and I skillfully surfed it to connect with the perceived “other”. When it was time to hold hope, I initially felt lost. So I lifted into what seemed the shape of it and immediately I felt across the divide because surely this is what the “other” is feeling right now. And I got it. It was a small flame and it grew and grew and soon it became mine as well. It became our hope. And truly, I am feeling both in this moment. And I am grateful for that possibility. We stand on a threshold, awake and alert. We do not know what the future holds. Why not have hope?
Mistress of hope, Maya Angelou, said “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” From her poem Pulse of Morning:
“Lift up your hearts
each new hour holds new chances
for a new beginning.
Do not be wedded forever to fear, yoked eternally
Come dance with me across the divide…..love, bella