A colleague asked me yesterday how I decide what to write about each week. I joked if you were with me earlier in the week there is a good chance you’ll recognize the theme or topic. I’m not a disciplined writer with a slate of topics, researches them, and writes in advance (maybe in another life when I’m not working full time). I sometimes wish for that discipline. I write from the immediacies of the moment, the gut moment, the emotional side. Honestly, I don’t really want to write right now. The past few weeks have been filled with a few deaths, including one this week. The lizard brain side of me doesn’t want to think hard.
As I thought about what to write, I turned on a podcast of a conversation with monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Listening to his wisdom the lessons of mindfulness and suffering came through. Krista Tippit, the interviewer, asked him about affinity group retreats and trainings he held – such as for law enforcement, congressional members, people of color. The reply was he needed to understand their unique sufferings to prepare for their retreats and to understand how to do the deep listening to communicate and understand.
Softening of the Heart
Last week I attended the homegoing (African American Christian memorial) for a friend. Nicey watched my babies when they were at her childcare center and we stayed connected through the years. The Reverend talked about how we are all connected to Nicey and how we will all need to adjust to life without her in big and small ways. Some lost a close family member, some like the Reverend talked about how he lost a friend and the person who remembered him every father’s day, birthday, and Christmas – she would bring him two-dozen cookies.
I took away from this that when we suffer, we can remember the suffering and pain and harden or we can look for ways to soften the heart and connect differently. When we break, we can repair our wounds in ways that are mindful and present. There is a Japanese art of taking broken pottery and repairing it with gold lines. It is often seen as a metaphor for suffering and recovery. There is a lot of metaphors around this for how we relate to each other around race and conflict.
We are all broken in different ways, and when we listen, communicate, and see the shared suffering we can heal and be joined together in ways that highlight our shared suffering and humanity.
Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah showed up on my YouTube channel. It is haunting and pure poetry. In looking up the song this interview popped up:
“This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can… reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah’.
The song explains that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist, and all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have equal value.”
I hope you also find some broken hallelujahs and connect with someone who needs to not be alone or feel broken.
Be sure to watch this version of Hallelujah performed by the Soweto Gospel Choir.
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I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice based relations.