Daily Verse 11.29.20—Fear of Hitting Snooze

Posted November 29th, 2020

I’m worried we just hit snooze with that election. I’m worried that with all the talk from white people about being awake, rising, and woke, we saw that election as an alarm to “turn off” rather than look at the larger system in which we’re operating.

I have learned that one of the hallmarks of our white culture is to point fingers at individuals as a means to smoke out injustices. I’m worried that among all the pot-banging and horn honking the night Biden+Harris won the election, we won’t hear the alarms of those people still caged by a system of our making. I’m worried that we’ll be lulled back to sleep and a self-congratulatory stupor, deluding ourselves as we kick the can up the road. I’m worried we think this election was about Trump, not about us. I hear white women talk about being exhausted and our over-taxed adrenal systems, and it feels like that deep yawn and stretch we do before we head off to bed for a deep slumber.

Maybe, just maybe, my worry isn’t a bad thing, but is the very thing that will keep me up on this dark night, mindful of how many people in our country do not have the luxury of going back to sleep. Maybe staying up on this dark night will be a form of holding vigil for the reality of so many Black women in this country that are standing over the beds of their children this very moment, wondering and worrying about their future and their safety at their kids sleeping at night. Maybe my worry is the pilot light in the stove at night, signally that all is not lost, but is also not actively making anything.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.28.20—My Ancestors

Posted November 28th, 2020

I was listening to an interview with Rachel Cargle, activist and founder of the Loveland Foundation, the other day and she shared she had a stickie note on her fridge that read: “I am my ancestors wildest dream.” It was intended to inspire her to do right by those who came before her, to build off of all the work that had been done before her, and to continue to the fight for freedom and social justice.

Listening to her, I had a different thought that coursed through my white woman’s body that day: “I am my ancestors worst nightmare.” And the thought made me chuckle a bit, because it’s true. I’m not going along to get along. I’m no longer “working for the man.” I’m not muting myself because it might make someone else feel uncomfortable. I’m not “playing nice” and I’m not “acting like a lady.” I’m bringing my fullest expression of myself to this go-around on our blue green planet, and am hell-bent on leaving it better than I found it, intent using myself to be of service to the greater good, and with an eye to those not as fortunate as me and the white people who surround me. I ask too many questions of my ancestors. I see the need for truth and reconciliation where there is denial and sweeping under the rug. I will not “move on” or “get over it”, but will take a stand, rooted like a stubborn oak.

I am that woman that my ancestors would have talked in hushed tones about, behind their white gloves at tea parties at cotillions and DAR meetings. I would be called outlandish and brash, inappropriate and uncouth. I would be tolerated, but shunned. But somewhere in that crowd of white ancestors of mine, there would be another woman like me. And we would find each other. And make good trouble together.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.27.20—White Womanness

Posted November 27th, 2020

I am a woman who has spent much of her professional energies in the world being a supporter and champion of women’s leadership. I’m also a woman who didn’t realize she was a woman until my early 30s and pregnant with my first child—a fact, which revealed me to myself in this man’s world. Those two things taken at face value seem at odds with each other, and they often are. But they have caused the creative tension that helped me give birth to myself, years after I was born.

Over the past four years I’ve thrashed about a bit as a white woman, alternatively indignant and resigned, awkward and tentative as I reckoned with my whiteness, and frequently outspoken and spewing righteous vitriol in response to our shit piles in this country. It’s not been pretty and it’s not been quiet. As the only woman in a houseful of white men during a pandemic, I felt alone and often resentful, because now it felt like I had two axes to grind—the fight for Black Lives Mattering and the fight for women to be valued as equal.

But then I had this moment in my closet when I was clearing out and organizing my closet (yes, I watched HomeEdit…), and I realized I was surrounded by color, like a rainbow I could wear on my body. I had forgotten the gifts of being a woman. I had lost sight of the things I’m granted just because I’m a woman, focussed as I was on the fight for the things we didn’t have. As I looked at husband’s side of the closet, and the muted tones of blues and browns in his shirts and pants and shoes that looked the same, kind of like a uniform that men are asked to wear, I was so very glad to have been born a woman—if nothing else than to be given the freedom to adorn my body with all the colors of the rainbow.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Post 11.26.20—Truly Grateful for a Non-Holiday

Posted November 26th, 2020

I have struggled with the celebration of Thanksgiving my whole life. When I was young, I couldn’t understand why I felt the way I felt. I just did. To me, the holiday always felt wildly inappropriate. In another generation, I wonder if a little girl might have felt similarly at picnic with her family at a public lynching. I felt as if I were being asked to silently go along with a script in a play that’s plotline was actually quite gruesome and violent. Over the years, I have tried to express how I felt and got summarily dismissed, told I was “missing the point”, didn’t understand what the holiday was really about, and that I was dragging everyone down. Every year, I watched people I loved celebrate the gluttony of our society unabashedly take center stage as the Macy’s parade of consumerism took over 5th Avenue, not understanding the compulsion to retire to couches to yell at the television as grown men beat the shit out of each other for our entertainment. Every year I got shamed into silence, bullied into conformity, and mocked for my apparent grasp of our nation’s history. I learned to mute myself, like how I trained myself to swim the length of an Olympic-sized pool underwater with just one breath, I held it in because it was just one day a year.

What I realize now is that my feelings about Thanksgiving weren’t unfounded, they were unpopular. No wonder I was silenced and shunned. What I realize now is that my feelings told me that it was fundamentally wrong to celebrate the genocide of indigenous people on an annual basis and call it a national holiday. No wonder indigenous people don’t tend to celebrate the holiday. What my feelings told me was this holiday was a grotesque mask that covered an ugly narrative about this country and the culture of white supremacy baked into it. No wonder I never had an appetite. No wonder a big part of me breathed a sigh of relief that a global pandemic would put a damper on the holiday for 2020. If only for a year.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.25.20—Invitation of the Night

Posted November 25th, 2020

The houses in my neighborhood are fairly close together. So much so that we can actually catch a glimpse of people inside sharing meals, doing dishes, or even see what they’re watching on television. Having lived in this neighborhood for nearly twenty-five years, and being a relatively private person myself, I like to think that most people learn to avert their eyes and not look at what is meant to be intimate. But in the middle of the night, when I can’t sleep—for those are pretty frequent these days—I prop my chin up on my pillow, gaze out the window at the head of our bed, and look across our backyard and into the back of our neighbor’s home which abuts our property. I try not to, but it’s often lit up and blazing well into the night.

I’ve noticed there is often a man—a middle-aged white guy—sitting at his dining room table, a lone figure under the glare of a chandelier that feels somehow out of place in the early hours of the morning. I’ve thought about this man as a metaphor for where we are as a country right now.

How many of us are alone at the table where decisions are being made? How many of us are awake while the world continues to turn? How many of us soldier on alone, when really what is needed to arouse the masses from their beds on this dark night? How many of us are working alone and making decisions in isolation? How many of us are proceeding with business as usual, when there are others up at night, laboring alone?

Maybe it’s the delirium that can find you in that that not-quite-asleep-but-not-yet-awake time, or maybe it’s the truth of the situation I was feeling. Maybe that’s the invitation on this dark night of our country’s collective soul: to see the empty table and the lone white man sitting at it, working away while all around him, neighbors sleep, and to stay awake.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.24.20—Before…and After Caste

Posted November 24th, 2020

I want to write a love letter to Isabel Wilkerson for writing her book Caste. I want to go up to every white person on the street, every history teacher in white suburban America, every white CEO in the country, every white board chairperson, every senator and state representative and ask this: “HAVE YOU READ CASTE YET!!!??? YOU ‘VE GOTTA TO READ CASTE.” That’s how strongly I feel about this book that has not only blown my mind, but cracked me wide open to understanding the “bones” that live underneath our conversations about race in this country. “Like the cast on a broken arm, like the cast in a play,” she writes, “a caste system holds everyone in a fixed place.” Shortly after starting this book, I looked at my husband in the kitchen and announced, “This is going to be one of the most important books I will have ever read.” The more I read—and listen to interviews and podcasts with the author—the more I am convinced that this book will fundamentally alter my thinking about race in this country and the white supremacy systematically baked into it. It’s one of those books that draws a line in the sand, like before Caste….and after Caste. I’m digesting, processing and getting this book into MY bones as part of my work in The Beach community at SheChanges online, but today, as I consider the gift she has given the world with this book, I will seal my love letter to Ms. Wilkerson her own quote: “Caste, along with its faithful servant race, is an x-factor in most any American equation, and any answer one might ever come up with to address our current challenges is flawed without it.”

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Want to know more about The Beach, the online gathering place where white women in my SheChanges community to do our anti-racism work together? Click here and learn how 100% of your one-time membership fee will be donated to Rachel Cargle’s Loveland Foundation Therapy Fund.

Daily Verse 11.23.20—Vespers

Posted November 23rd, 2020

As darkness comes early these days, I’ve decided to reclaim the ancient practice of vespers to harness the power of our home as a sacred space. I want to melt into the invitation this season asks of us—to go into the dark for inspiration, for guidance, for comfort—so I’ve been turning to poetry each day, and writing down in my journal the particular ones that speak to my soul this time of year. I want to practice vespers as a way of making our home a holy place. The idea was inspired by a trip we took as a family to London two years ago. One of the highlights of that trip was the discovery of vespers—that quiet service of evening prayers of the divine. I am no stranger to the concept of quiet reflection at the end of the day, having worked at an overnight camp for many summers that made a practice of gathering at twilight by the lake to quiet our minds and connect our souls to the land. But walking through the doors of Westminster Abby in London, I was reminded of the sensation I always used to get walking through the doors of Saint Patrick’s cathedral in New York City, or Notre Dame in Paris—that hushed stillness as you left the noise of the outside world behind, the inundation to my senses in the dimly lit space filled with candlelight and scents of stories told and rituals lived by all those who have walked through those doors. I want my home these days to remind me of those hallowed doors, and to remember the sensation of holiness that can exist just outside the noisy world.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.22.20—Duat

Posted November 22nd, 2020

I feel really forgetful these days, and when I pause to consider all the bits and pieces I ask my mind to hold, organize and retrieve for me, I am floored. Passwords, phone numbers, facts and figures, to do lists, codes and combinations, schedules and appointments, daily, monthly and annual events and obligations…no wonder our brains are so tired and full, even with our smart phones to help us (although that last bit is debatable). But I forgot there is this magical portal of storage available to me until a client reminded me the other day that she was storing something in the duat—that layer that lives just under the surface of the waking world or mortal realm, and can be accessed from anywhere just by our intention. I first learned of this concept as a young mother when I was reading Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series aloud to my eldest son. Described as a means to transport or hide large or secret things, the duat felt like this awesome personal storage facility that was always available, but didn’t need to be carried—by memory, hands, or lists. It just held what it was given to hold—safely free from the prying eyes of non-believers, ne’er-do-wellers, or detractors. Simply put, it’s a powerful tool of the trade used by heroes or magical people on a mission. Which often involves dissent.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.21.20—The Temple of Divinity

Posted November 21st, 2020

When I was much younger, a boyfriend commented on how deeply spiritual I was. He was Episcopalian and a product of Jesuit schools, so I dismissed his comment—and dismissed him shortly after. But his words always stuck with me. Somehow I knew how clearly he had seen or sensed something in me that I wasn’t yet ready to see or sense myself. I had confused religion with spirituality, something I know many of us do—cutting our divinity because we don’t believe in any one dogma or faith. Years have gone by and with it, many discoveries about who I am as spiritual person, and how I tend to the care and feeding of that side of me. Much of it is private and a lot of it unable to be expressed—only felt. But I do know this: it is always present for me when music, art, and movement are present. And it always gets heightened in nature and when I travel. It’s more about being in spaces—the energy and the environment—than the community, rituals or people within it. I owe a debt of gratitude to that brown-eyed man in my past who looked into my soul years ago and saw the divinity that lay within. I am the temple of my own divinity now. No building can contain me, no dogma can constrain me, and there are no bounds to my sacredness.

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.

Daily Verse 11.20.20—Riding Thermals

Posted November 20th, 2020

I read this great passage the other day in The Enchanted Life by Sharon Blackie—so good it stopped me in my tracks. Someone was explaining to her the difference between gliding and riding as it relates to the sport of hang gliding. Anyone can glide, it seems. It’s a simple matter of letting the wings of the apparatus do their job, carrying you down to ground relatively quickly and safely. But, he said, “if you really want to fly for hours at a time, to explore the world of the birds, the mountains, and the clouds, you need nature’s help. You need a thermal.”

He explained the scary and tricky part of “catching a thermal”, finding one and then getting into it so that it could carry you up higher, and you can ride much longer. Apparently that’s the hardest part—navigating that hellish in-between roughness where you’re getting thrown about by this upwardly rising air current that isn’t easy to find and isn’t easy to  get into.

What if that is the invitation COVID is giving us—to be a thermal that will extend our ride on this great earth? What if this loud and scary disruption we’re experiencing in our “normal” blue sky day is a potential moment of great uplift if we can all get inside it and let it carry us upward. What if we’ve all been gliding down with gravity pulling us and calling that living, when we could really be flying higher and longer than we even dared to imagine possible?

 

Want to know what these daily verses are all about? Read here to learn what inspired this practice on my birthday post, November 1st.