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.

Daily Verse 11.19.20—No More Cruise Control

Posted November 19th, 2020

I feel unusually strong about not using the cruise control function while driving a car, and it’s a big bone of contention in our family. I don’t get it and no one gets me. I get the logic and the rationale behind it—how it is more fuel efficient and ensures you’re not speeding, but it all feels so….controlling to me. I want to be the driver of my car, not a passenger driven by a sophisticated computer. I don’t want to be consistent. I don’t want to have a governor on my speed. I don’t want to take my foot off the gas when I’m seeking to drive me and my people forward. I want to slow down and speed up at will, sometimes just to keep the ride interesting. I get a lot of eye-rolls and shrugs from my men folk when I state my reasonings (again) for wanting what I want, which makes me wonder if this “cruise control” thing is more than just about driving.

I can’t help but think this whole damn country has been on cruise control for way too long. So long we’ve forgotten we’re operating heavy machinery and that people’s lives are in our hands while we assume responsibility for driving. So long that many of us have fallen asleep at the wheel. So long that we’ve had way too many “how did I get here” episodes—you know the ones, where you arrive at a destination and can’t quite remember making the trip? Those moments in this “car” we’ve been driving have gotten us where we are.

We need to be lucid and stay awake as we drive right now. We need to keep our eyes on the road and our foot on the gas, ready to lay it down or let it up at a moment’s notice, with cat-like reflexes. We need to override the programmed computers that have been dictating our actions. You know what we really need in this country? To go off-roading a bit—to get off the beaten path and out of of dodge, discovery some new terrain and get a change of scenery. You can’t do that with cruise control on, no siree. So mine is staying off. Final answer.

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 11.18.20—Breaking The Seal

Posted November 18th, 2020

You know what my idea of hell is? Walking into a room where there is so much to be said but no one is saying it—where people are making small talk with saccharine smiles, but you can just sense the river of shit coursing through the room. Entering a room like that feels like trying to get onto a really crowded subway during the evening commute, only instead of people, it’s filled with unspoken words. It’s not good. It’s very, very bad. I am at my worst in those situations, saying things half-cocked, hoping something remotely relevant will collide with an unspoken truth and break the seal of silence on the room.

Another scenario I suck at is going into a gathering, like a funeral, where there is so much palpable grief, but no one is crying. People are clearly in pain and there is much suffering, but there is no visible release of it. I’m like the fucking wailing woman in that situation, and I start uncontrollably sobbing even if I don’t have a relationship with the person who died or the family who survived. It’s mortifying, but I can’t seem to hold it in.

These two examples are part of the reason I related so much to Greta Thunberg when she spoke at the World Economic Forum and said, “I don’t want your hope, I want you to panic. Because our house is on fire.” She was asking—begging, insisting, even—that people respond more appropriately to the crisis unfolding right in front of our eyes.

It feels like seal has been broken and all hell has broken loose as result right now, doesn’t it—good, bad and ugly? As a country, we are reckoning with much that has been left unsaid—or certainly unheard—for far too long. And many are grieving the loss of what we used to call “normal”. Everyone is talking at once, it seems, and there is much noise in the room. There are tears falling in frustration and pain and anger, as people come together in groups to console, to grieve, to rage and to support. It’s a hot mess, but then again, it’s our mess that has been here all along. We’ve just finally broke the seal that was holding it all in.

 

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 11.17.20—Always Do Your Best Is Bullshit

Posted November 17th, 2020

I caught myself in a whopper of a lie to my kids not too long ago, and it resulted in me taking a good dose of my own medicine.

In our house, we talk a lot about not “mailing it in” when it comes to showing up to our responsibilities in life, be it commitments to school, work, or community. We believe in that, we do—show up fully, give what you’ve got, and contribute something. I talk a lot about Mrs. Rumphius to our boys, the character in that children’s book known as the “Lupine Lady” who was taught to travel, see the world, and leave it better than she found it.

Recently when I sensed one of my kids had just done the bare minimum on something to get it done and over, I said this in a sarcastic tone, eyebrow raised: “Well…did you do your best?” No, he hadn’t. He knew it. I knew it. Busted. Later that night, when I was walking the dog I thought about what complete bullshit that question was…did you do your best? One thing I know for sure—and talk to my clients about on a regular basis—is the benefit of lowering the bar on your own expectations, letting something be “good enough” and yes, even mailing it in from time to time. The reality is that we can’t—we just can’t—always do our best. We’d break ourselves trying, and many of us have. There is a time and a place for good enough, and if you ask me that strategy is not deployed with enough frequency (although COVID has certainly increased that capacity in us, am I right?)

So fuck it. I’ve put that question (Did you do your best?) in cold storage until further notice. I’m all about enough right now—maybe forever.

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 11.16.20—Tired Technology

Posted November 16th, 2020

I’ve decided I’m going to stop trying to understand what’s going on with technology, and let it just sort itself out. Hacking, malware, upgrades, bugs, fixes, hardware, software, modems, chargers, cables, battery power, memory problems, glitches, dropped signals….it’s just all so exhausting. And yet there is the pervasive sense we need it to function, like our breath or a liver. What does that say about us—that complete abdication of our power or agency when we come into contact with our machines designed to make us more “smart”?

For the past fifteen years of running my own business, I have often joked that the one thing that could get me back inside the corporate world is access to an IT department that would take care of all this shit for me. My strategy has been to just keep learning more, but that’s proving futile as it obviously keeps changing. So my new strategy is to not try and understand. My new strategy is to admit that I’m tired. My new strategy is to stop considering “what if…” worst case situations and to start imagining “even if…” scenarios. I am not defined by my ability to master technology. I’m putting down the expectation that I will ever understand or feel in control of something simply because it fits in the palm of my hand.

 

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