While the saber-rattlers practice their stern faces in mirrors, we gather our children and see the reflections of the eyes of mothers on the other side of endless wars, holding their children to their own hearts.
While the war profiteers add up their numbers, we count too, numbering our young people, knowing that somewhere, in that distant land, other mothers pull sons and daughters away from that red line in the sand, other teachers are doing the math of the beloved scholars ripening to the age of soldier.
We know, as those others know, that collateral damage means someone’s child, someone’s empty arms, someone’s heart torn apart. We know that the men who make war, the maestros who orchestrate the grand drama, are not the ones who do the war, are not the ones who live it.
We know, as the women of Iran know, as the war-makers can never seem to understand, that every casualty has a mother.
Gratitude List: 1. That quiet doe who slipped across the road in yesterday’s headlights, reminding me of shy tenderness, of the need to take great care in all things, to pay attention. 2. The people of Lancaster, standing in the freezing cold, holding up the hope of peace between nations. Young and old, and everyone’s toes like ice, but hearts warm and determined. 3. Doing the last-minute hopeful tweaks on second-semester classes. I love jumping in to second semester, despite the stress of the overlay of first semester’s finish on second semester’s start. Tabula rasa. Anything can be. 4. Last night I heard a story of a former student (before my time here) whose family has recently been reaching out to the school to share how much the school helped to shape–in often quiet and seemingly small respects–the life of their son. I’m grateful for all the ways in which the little things we do for each other open us to deeper connection–in ways we might not always be able to express. 5. The shine of snow-covered landscapes. Winter is not simply dark and drear. Some days, it dazzles!
There’s so much to be angry about–despairing about, frustrated about–in these days. Why not stage your own protest? Begin with Black Friday and the Christmas/Yule holidays that approach.
Protest the Big Corporations and the 1% by buying your gifts from small stores, from Makers and Creators, people who lovingly craft items of beauty and usefulness.
Protest the racists and white nationalists who have been crawling out of the woodwork by buying your gifts from businesses owned and operated by people of color.
Protest the sexism and predation of the patriarchs by buying your gifts from women-run businesses.
Protest the consumerism of the season by taking your loved ones out to eat at local restaurants run by women, or people of color, or immigrants.
Donate to an organization that causes good things to happen in the world by donating to a cause that stands in the face of that which causes you pain. Donate in the names of your loved ones and make that a gift. Sit together at the Thanksgiving tables and talk about what organizations you as a community/family/tribe can contribute to together.
Volunteer, donate your time, take the little ones on a nature walk, or color together. Play games together. Make art. Write stories and poems together.
Share your dreams and your hopes with each other. Read each other your favorite poems. Tell stories. Listen. Make this coming holiday season about connection, about working together to create the future we envision.
In our family, the children have certain expectations of particular gifts, and we will probably fulfill certain of their desires, but I want to do it in the context of open awareness of who and what we support.
Do you feel it? How this growing resistance is drawing energy from a heart-source as it gains momentum? Oh, the anger and the rage are there, the ranting and the complaining (and I don’t deny my own participate in that), but there’s also the call to love and prayer. People are following the call of our recent First Lady to go high when they go low.
The doors of this movement were opened by the Standing Rock Water Protectors, who stood their ground with prayerfulness and love–who still hold that space today despite continued brutality. As we move into these next weeks and months, with the constant news of some new slap in the face of justice and equality for all people, perhaps we, too, can take the name Protectors. Perhaps the protest of the day is Protection.
With the Standing Rock folks, we protect the waters, protect the earth. We protect the vulnerable displace people who are seeking asylum and new life here. We protect our neighbors of all races when they feel threatened. We protect our Muslim neighbors, our Jewish neighbors, our atheist neighbors, no matter their stance on religion. We protect our LGBTQI neighbors. We protect the children and their hope for education.
I keep getting mired in this not-knowingness–not knowing how to respond, how to protest, how to stand in the gap. Still, it helps to choose a name, an identity for the journey: Protector. Protection will not always mean quiet waiting. Sometimes it will require active resistance. Other times, it will require deep inner work to hold the safe spaces. May we be Protectors.
Gratitude List: 1. Protectors
5. Artists and Poets and Dreamers