A Mysterious Country

On Sunday I found a bird in the backyard trying to fly but caught in something that kept pulling her back to the ground. Initially it looked like fishing line, but when I got closer I could see it was some sort of vine, dry but very strong. I got some scissors to cut her free, but she was so frightened she kept trying to lift-off, and I was unable to cut as close to her foot as I would have liked. Still, I got the vine cut and on her first attempt she hopped-flew just a short distance, so I tried to get closer again, but then she took flight, trailing six inches of vine still wrapped on her leg.

I have a friend who has a broken heart, which in turn makes all the hearts close to her ache a little. We want to make it better. My friend is like the ensnared bird wanting to fly again but unable to move more than a short distance from the ground. When she is able to break free of the vine she is entangled in, it’s likely a piece of it will still be wrapped around her, a piece she will have to carry, altering her pattern of flight for a while, perhaps even permanently.

The heart is a mysterious country with a varied landscape and a language all its own. Our sacred contract to life means we’ve committed to experience all the heart brings from the giddy highs of unexpected love to the crippling lows of heartache. Our family and friends can distract us from a broken heart, maybe even soothe it, but the mending of it is a holy process done in conclaves in the private rooms of that same heart with a brigade of angels catching tears, snipping vines, returning us to flight.

Stay Woke

The older I get, the less in touch I am with latest lexicon of street slang. I only first heard the phrase “stay woke” when I attended the Martin Luther King Day event at Riverside Church.

For those who don’t know, “stay woke” means to stay informed and conscious in turbulent times and to be vigilant about and critical of the media machine and the establishment and ready to act. The phrase first gained traction in the African American community after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. When I heard it, it quickly gained traction in my heart and soul, reverberating there like a drumbeat and repeating in my mind like a mantra.

That mantra thrummed in me on my way to Washington, DC where on January 21st I joined friends, and what globally turned out to be millions of others, for the Women’s March. Claustrophobic as I am, it was good to be among so many like-minded people, walking, talking, laughing and standing in solidarity.

I spend a good deal of my energy these days trying to understand what happened in our country, what is currently happening here, and what might happen here, how we affect other countries, as well as trying to figure out when and how to respond. I wonder if the endless online petitions I’m signing (slacktivism) and the ongoing protests are making a difference.

I’ve been doing a little reading on that subject (The Washington Post, Vox, and others) and while there is some disagreement about the efficacy of those actions, most of the articles I read claim that slacktivism and protests do work with varying degrees of success. They raise awareness and deepen understanding. They show commitment and foster activism.  It takes time to know their impact. They give hope. The spontaneous protests in response to the immigration ban were heartening, as were the responses by judges, attorneys general and mayors of major cities. But now we have the so-called “routine” raids targeting undocumented immigrants. With each heartening act it seems there is an equally disheartening one that tests our resolve and challenges us every day to find new ways to recommit to what is just.

Brexit and the election of Donald Trump by the Electoral College were choices driven by fear. Those of us who did not agree with the outcomes are now living in fear of the ramifications. The harmful effects of the energy pollution of that collective fear are impossible to know or predict but I believe very real.

What makes fear recede? Breath. Hope. Light. Laughter. Sight. Action. Huddling together. Living life. Remember how turning on the light when you were a child and afraid of the dark made the fear go away? Turn on the light. Stay woke. Stay woke. Stay woke.