As I’ve been processing the last week of events, I’ve also been talking a lot about original blessing, and hearing great thoughts and questions from people in the process. And I’ve noticed the obvious connection between the two, which is, as it happens, about the nature of connection. There’s so much anxiety and our confusion over what we are supposed to do with all this mess we see around us in the world. What does it have to do with us? Who is to blame? What are we supposed to do in response?
Addressing huge problems and assuming there is any overarching solution feels above my paygrade to discuss, but today I have been pondering again this idea of the underbelly of connection–and maybe it’s the soft underbelly, the vulnerable underbelly, like the place on a dragon that is actually prone to harm. For us, the underbelly is that sometimes the thing that connects us all together is also the thing that does us harm. Connection is designed to be life-giving and blessing-extending, but sometimes we turn in on ourselves and we weave systems of injustice and everything becomes very tangled…and yet, we still remain connected.
Because no matter who I voted for for President, I’ve gotta live with the one that won, just for starters. And I need to confront my own role in what happens as we move forward. And I will be affected–and you will, too–by the way that everyone else chooses to confront those same things.
The reality is, there is no us and them. There is only us.
That is not kumbaya, or hippie sentiment. That is the terrifying, awe-strickening truth.
I do talk about this in my book, but I leave it to the back half, because I think it’s so vitally important that we begin by realizing that the purpose of our inter-connectedness with God and with each other is good and true and pure and vital. And as far as God is concerned, it’s unshakeable. As far as humanity is concerned, it is a living organism that changes every time we change, moves every time we move, sings every time we sing, mourns every time we sever its ties.
Which is to say, what we say matters. What we do matters. What we leave unsaid and leave undone matters.
So. I don’t think it’s the best use of my time or energy to try to figure out why. And it’s not helpful to assign blame. Instead I return to some lovely words of Pema Chodron: “What will happen to us today is completely unknown…Whatever happens, our commitment is to awaken our heart…All activities should be done with one intention. That intention is to realize our connection with all beings.”
Sometimes that connection is so beautiful it feeds us for the next hundred miles. Sometimes that connection is so heartbreaking we can barely breathe. Either way, the invitation is the same. It is to awaken our hearts, either to a wound we did not see before, a pain we had not noticed, a joy we had not truly cherished, a gift we had overlooked. As we move toward Thanksgiving, perhaps we can release a bit of our anger and anxiety, and recognize it not as an enemy or even as a divisive emotion, but as something that points us back to the heart of things, the soft underbelly of human connection. And then, maybe, we’ll know just one little next step to take, with an awakened heart, broken but beating.