In the midst of hateful name-calling, bullying, and divisive words from the POTUS these past months, we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. a man who walked the walk of peace, stood up to oppression and injustice, and died much too soon.
Celebrate this day by demonstrating compassion, be kind, share peace. Wherever there is an injustice, use your words to speak up, to write an email, or to sign a petition for justice.
Be of service to others, refuse to give up hope, and work to make our community and nation stronger.
This has been a frightening week, interspersed with personal trying periods, and a need to bury my head for a couple of hours at a time.
My daughter texted me after the tragedy in Nice, France.
I hated that she felt unsafe. I hated that I couldn’t stretch my arms across 1,000 miles and give her a hug, kiss her forehead. All I could offer her was to look for hope and to take a deep breath.
But I had to remember that feeling unsafe doesn’t mean that we are.
This was my reaction to feeling powerless, angry, and fearful.
I wanted to share the power of prayer with her, but she isn’t Christian or of any faith anymore. That in itself added to my sadness. But, also gave me the opportunity, later, to have a conversation with her about why I pray and how that helps me.
That night the news across all channels broadcast the tragedy. Soon there was another world event, the attempted coup in Turkey, and another, the sniper attack on police officers in Baton Rouge.
I had to keep the television off and stay off social media. My mind, spirit, and body were out of whack.
My attempts at ‘righting’ myself was to practice some self-care. I tried to find ways to relax and experience safety.
The garden beckoned. The Monarch caterpillars had decimated the milkweed leaving it a skeletal reminder of a once gorgeous fiery orange headed plant. Meanwhile, new butterflies showed off acrobatic skills over the remaining fronds of the second milkweed bush.
While watering the potted succulents I found that two blossomed with beautiful flowers. Being in the garden helped and somehow pushed me to go to the gym and exercise.
That evening I decided not to go out and sat in my backyard coloring. My sister gifted me with the adult coloring books a few months back. This may sound cheesy, but I felt a lot of pleasure wielding the colored pencils, so much that I had to go buy me a box of Crayola crayons, the giant 64 set box.
The next day, I read a mesmerizing book of poetry written by a man who had been a slave and put into the ‘service’ of a wealthy slave owner as a child of six years of age. Although his verses expose the cruelty of slavery, his poetry reflects the beauty he finds with his parents and his own world.
Meditation via my cell phone is a life saver. I either go to Pandora and listen to Deepak Chopra or I go to the Oprah channel and listen to one of Chopra’s 21 days of meditations. (Many times they are free).
On Sunday, I attended church service where I’m a greeter a couple of times a month. As I passed out bulletins to numerous families, teenagers and the elderly, the smiles people gave after a “good morning, I hope you enjoy the service” enlivened me.
I wondered why I felt a new energy, and it dawned on me that although the people were heavily burdened, they were trying to live and do the best they could.
Over the weekend, I kept in close contact with my daughter and shared the photos above with her. I don’t know if this helped her but it sure helped me.
Do the best you can. Create your own safe space. Hugs.
Like many others, I’m trying to understand what’s going on in our nation.
As a person who has been on both sides of the thin blue line (stopped over 50 times in my youth and a 30-year career in criminal justice) it’s not difficult to understand how wounds fester and people get frustrated and beyond.
But to sniper kill police officers during a peaceful demonstration can never be the answer to an already wounded community and nation.
To empathize with police officers and other law enforcement doesn’t mean we don’t empathize with peaceful Black Lives Matter protests.
To take a stand for one doesn’t mean you can’t take a stand for the other. One can be “pro cop” and “pro black lives matter.” It doesn’t have to be “either/or.”
One part of me understands the frustrations, the other part is sickened; the whole of me feels that the fear and worry will separate us more, but it is at this precise moment that we have to create hope.
I want to share this video which shone a light on an otherwise sorrowful week. This occurred after an interfaith prayer service in Dallas on July 8th. This YouTube video is from the Free Hugs Project.
We have to address systemic racism.
We have to find a way to work towards community and peace.
I don’t have the answer on “How” to do this but I know it can be done and it starts with individuals.
It won’t be easy but it will be worth stepping towards hope.