Impeachment Redux: the House has impeached the sitting President a second time -
– a necessary and insufficient action to rectify events, the extent of which will not be even known to us for some time. So it is up to us to answer this question posed by Kansas-born poet William Stafford, a conscientious objector during World War II. Because whatever we have been doing and not doing up to now as humans has not been enough.
Read this not as how do we restore some imagined glory days, but as – how do we bring back life, vibrant life, love, and valor among and between human beings? What virtues will we cultivate? How will we build character? What will we use as a compass?
Putting aside even these sometimes helpful constructs, how are we listening to the moment? As I write, our elected representatives in the House have been cramming their words, hopes, fears, wisdom and foolishness into 30-second increments in which they may hold forth, or yield to a colleague.
How are we holding this rhetoric, as this selected/elected group attempts to connect or cloud cause and effect, to draw a boundary between unquestionable incitement and damnable but not impeachable behavior? Will the Lost Cause of the American Civil War gain new life or immanent death now that its flag has been waved in the US Capitol?
Meanwhile I feel like I am sweeping up broken glass.
I am punctured over and over again, bleeding bright red in spite of voting blue. I find little slivers everywhere, as I search for emerging kindnesses, bits of order, the right words, the right actions. I am calmed by the rock pictured above, that fits comfortably if roughly in the palm of my hand.
In this rock, I have the gift of holding deep time in my hand
Last night I received this granite emissary of the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque from my good friend and geologist-writer Deb Green. Today I asked her to share its significance with our online practice group. She said the rock, as it sits on its flat side – as it does in the banner photo – is in both the shape and color of these mountains. You can see the salmon pink of orthoclase feldspar, the green of epidote, and shining specks of mica among the quartz and other minerals, colors true to “Sandia” (Spanish for “watermelon.”)
Deb had been sitting for meditation on a boulder. Tapping its edge as she rose, this chunk fell off in her hand, “because it was weathering in place.” She went on to describe how this really hard rock that had built a whole mountain range had, through countless freeze and thaw cycles, fractured and broken off so easily.
The rock is some 1.3 – 1.4 billion years old. The “deep time” embodied in these rocks, she said, renders her insignificant in the scheme of things, and simultaneously frees her “to go for” what she is here for on this earth, at this moment.
A few minutes later another group member questioned, how do we get through to people who seem as solid as boulders impervious to change, who hold so tightly to a view of the world that is anathema to us?
Here’s what has come to me, some hours later.
We may not ever “get through” to them.
Maybe, just maybe, we can enter into relationship with some of them.
First, we restrain them.
This is what I devoutly pray will result from impeachment and whatever other additional legal means we have at hand to effectively restrain acts of domestic insanity and terrorism, including the fomenting of hatred in word or deed and the use of casual threat. This can work only as civilian and military policing, prosecutors, judges and jurors each come to their own deep moments of reckoning with Whiteness. This will take long, but not long enough to register as deep time.
“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”
When I hear a false equivalency used to justify or normalize the sitting President’s words and behaviors, I know to listen for the grains of truth that are there, especially the ones that ping “true” for me in my own thoughts and actions.
And then, we melt. Um, our enemies? Ourselves? A bit of each?
The word “MELT” came into my mind, all CAPS, an oversized billboard. And, frankly, this act remains aspirational, a level of holy human action and courage still beyond me. I just don’t have the heart, “le coeur” for it.
So I come back to William Stafford’s answer to his own question, and this has to do me for now:
What can a person do to help
bring back the world?
We have to watch it and then look at each other.
Together we hold it close and carefully
save it, like a bubble that can disappear
if we don’t watch out.
Please think about this as you go on. Breath on the world.
Hold out your hands to it. When mornings and evenings
roll along, watch how they open and close, how they
invite you to the long party that your life is.