Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Down in the Swamp, Looking Up. A Spiritual Guide for the Resistance.

It’s been awhile. After I left the active ministry.. for now… I started a memoir, wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo, and dealt with some health problems, all the while adjusting to being a semi-retired farm wife caring for our son with autism. I’ve been able to spend some time with my grown children. My son Colin and I traveled to Cuba in December. I’ve found something beautiful and blessed in every day, be it a sunrise, or a flock of wild turkeys, a doe and fawn darting into the woods, the staff and teachers who treat my son so well, a fresh egg for breakfast.

And then there’s… the election.

 The day of election!

A few weeks later, (actually I tripped and hit my face but I did feel like I'd been smacked in the head!)

Up until November 8th, I believed that of course Clinton would win, and we’d have heard the last of Trump, his horrific treatment of women, his racism, his hate-filled tirades, and seen the last of the bared teeth of his followers. I dressed in white to honor the suffragettes on the day I believed our first woman President would be elected. Sure, Clinton wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I felt confident she’d be a competent, reasonable, and capable executive.

That night, my daughter and I watched together as the terrible truth became clear. Seeing her grief was almost worse than feeling my own. How could this have happened?

I’ll admit that I wasn’t shocked. I’d been to New Jersey a few weeks earlier and, driving around the Southern part of the state, I saw sign after sign for Trump… and none for Clinton. And that was in a blue state!

In the weeks that followed, I believe that those of us who were alarmed by the coming regime of this egomaniacal, self-absorbed, and completely uninformed person responded each in our own way. Many of us celebrated the holidays with a sense that this might be our last joyful chance. Some of us went into denial and stopped watching TV or listening to news. Hundreds of thousands of women (and men) began preparations to resist his agenda, beginning with the magnificent, peaceful show of unity that happened Saturday all over the world.

And, blessedly, my daughter went to that march. I’m so delighted that she was able to be a part of that. What a feeling it must have been! This day will be such a part of history, and in my mind, those who went will see their activism based in their presence that day.
Since then, the insanity and bizarre behavior of Trump and his minions has continued on a daily basis to the horror of any thinking or reasonable person.

So this begins my ministry.

I believe that many of us are traumatized by what is happening in our world right now. And one of the things I’ve tried to do over these months of the campaign and the transition, and will be doing as long as this continues (and, for the record, I don’t expect it to last for four years) has been to contemplate and to bring my spiritual tools to gain some understanding of what is going on. Certainly, it’s a time unlike any other in our history. There have been times of fear and anxiety and grief. But usually these fears have been focused upon outside forces. Now we fear our own government, our own President.

To me, his behavior is like that of a dry drunk.

Much of what he does can be understood if we look at him as a person with a sickness and a personality disorder.

The real question is why so many citizens listened to him and believed him in spite of his lies, delusions, and horrible behavior? I have some ideas about that.

So what I plan to write about are some of the ways I have found to keep my spiritual house from falling apart while this all unfolds. I have some experience. Yes, I have actual credentials: twenty plus years in parish ministry, a certificate in Spritual Direction (Jungian and Dreamwork centered), and lots of time spent in meditation, primarily Buddhist-centered. I've also studied Family Systems, 12 Step programs, and "Appreciative Inquiry" styles of leadership. But my true wisdom comes from sixty years of lived experience: For almost all of my life, I’ve lived with an immediate family member who was actively alcoholic (sometimes more than one.) I know how to keep myself alive spiritually .

There’s a lot out there about resistance. Probably one of the best is the Indivisible movement. Doing just one thing a day can keep us from feeling helpless.

But this is a place where I’ll talk about spiritual tools. When Huston Smith died, I read that he prayed many times a day, God , you are so good to me. That’s been a great help to me. It always helps me to focus upon something: my great kids, the beautiful countryside, the good friends I have been blessed to have. I know my many atheist and humanist friends may find that notion unhelpful, but what I want to communicate is this: good happens, as often as bad. And it happens without your will. You and I may have different meanings for “god,” but the idea is to pause for gratitude.

It works for me.