I say we help him. What do you say?
He just made me tear up at my desk.
I say we help him. What do you say?
He just made me tear up at my desk.
It is 3:35 a.m. on the fourth night in a row that I have been awakened by lightning and thunder. The big dogs have come slinking from their couches into the bedroom, much to the resistance of the small ones who are curled snug in the blankets. Quieting frayed canine nerves at this ungodly hour under flashes of unearthly light could be a real drain. But it isn’t. It is the hour of the wolf after all. The hour for intuitive work and self knowing.
Almost every night of storming I have dreamed of healing. The first night I dreamed that I had awakened in the bright morning light and that the windows had been left open. The sunlight covered my face in a wide ribbon ending at my chin. I blinked at the brightness of it and had my first waking thought “MAN this is bright! I could be sunburned right here in this bed!” Then I noticed that the light was cool and soft in spite of being incredibly bright. Surprised and comforted, I closed my eyes without having moved at all and went back to sleep. In the morning when I woke up it was dark in the room. The bedroom blinds were drawn so tight that morning had to struggle to prove herself through the cracks. There was no way I could have been bathed in sunlight or even moonlight through such windows. That is when I realized it must have been a dream.
Tonight lightning woke me from another dream. In this one I was waking from days in a coma. It may even have been months. I was not in a hospital, but somewhere beautiful surrounded by nature. Two of my close friends were standing vigil over me and were overjoyed to see me awake. The rejoicing at my return was so beautiful I got caught up in the joy of it. And I was hungry.
These dreams coincide with a real life healing that feels nothing short of miraculous. I have been so full of joy in my waking life that it makes no sense to me! Over the past year I have battled dark thoughts and feelings, the depths of which I have never seen in any dark period before. But quite suddenly this seems to have come to an end! It was on Sunday night that I had my first fit of giggles sparked off by my God daughter throwing the funniest tantrum because she was trying to beat her playmate into wanting to play with her. It’s ok – she’s three. I laughed so hard that the tears were running down my face. And then yesterday afternoon, in a training session hosted by one of my team that I had requested weeks before, on wry word became the most debilitating fit of giggles I have had in years. As the tears rolled down my face I found myself astonished at the well of bubbles, joy and mirth I had stumbled upon inside myself. Against all odds, the odds that are killing people every day in a world that seems to have gone crazy, I have found healing. It has been a revelation from God or the Universe and it has struck as bright as a bit of lightning.
Even now my front yard flashes an unearthly bright, giving glimpses of trees soaked to the skin on the slope now slick with sky water. I settle under the soft microfibre blanket patterned with leaves and the word “Blessing” all over it and watch the show. I am flanked by my four dogs, finding comfort in the closeness. The rain washes the roof in a steady drumming heard inside the cabin like an army of marching faeries. More and more time passes between the flashes of light and the air splitting sound – a sign the storm is moving on.
God heals and reveals in his own time.
The Washington Post just published an article with the most baffling headline. “Attacker in Nice is said to have radicalized ‘very rapidly'” Eh? What in God’s good name does that mean?
Is there a process for radicalization? A methodology in which he skipped some of the steps? Is it like a surgery where he went into the operating room as a normal human being and three short hours later, instead of the ten that the procedure normally takes, he emerged as a religion-crazed cold-blooded killer? Or is it like a treatment plan, a course of antibiotics that he needed to complete in three weeks to have the full effect? One pill in the morning, one at night? Or is it like the five stages of grief, where you can track your progress as you descend into the darkness? Perhaps it is more like my iPhone battery. 25% Radicalized. 50% Radicalized. Charging at a rate of 1% per second. 100% Radicalized and ready to kill.
This is the language of Science Fiction. It is the philosophy of movies like The Matrix and Equilibrium. While the idea makes great art, it has no roots in reality.
If you’ve ever been human in this reality, you know it doesn’t work like that. You get out of bed every morning, just like this killer did, and you have choices to make. These choices sometimes come without deliberation like “I’ll have eggs instead of cereal this morning.” Others come at the end of a process of thinking like “I’ll submit my application to Durham University instead of NYU this morning.” That process of thinking can take months or minutes. And then there is the crazy shit like “I’ll run a lorry into a crowd of people this morning.” But still, no matter the thought before, the decision is made in an instant. It can also be unmade in an instant.
Take for instance, the person who walks into their office one day and hates the place so much that they have the sudden urge to set the bitch on fire. Have you ever been there? I have. You can’t see me but I’m raising my hand right here at my desk. You know what happens next for normal people? We turn around and walk out. Or we go to the toilets and wash our face. Or we sit our civilized backside down at our desk and get some work done. All in an instant.
But no. Mr. Nice Guy had to go kill a bunch of people.
This is not a Muslim issue. This is not a gun issue. This isn’t a lorry drivers’ issue. This is not a European or French issue. You know it. You also know it takes NO TIME AT ALL for some people to get that crazy.
We live in a tinderbox time. People are angry. Lots of them. People are being left to die avoidable deaths. Lots of them. People are suffering in the impact of avoidable conflicts. Lots of them. How long does it take to set the box on fire? How long does it take to radicalize an angry, terrified, white cop into putting three bullets into a car full of black people? How long does it take to radicalize the ‘badman’ in downtown Kingston into murdering a couple of harmless homosexual boys?
It takes a second.
Our enemy is not who we think it is. Our enemy is Fear. And every day, with every act of violence in this terrified world, more recruits are joined to it’s cause. And yes, they are radicalized “very rapidly”. In a single stage. The stage of FEAR.
Be the love. Let the religion, color, occupation, and radicalization of LOVE win.
(Image credit to http://besttimepass.com)
I look at my canvas and think that Liberty is a bitch. She has a decidedly European face and means freedom but not for all. What if I were to make her black with a hint of caramel? Give her dreadlocks and a spear, a nose wide as the horizon, a red dawn of pain to be born upon? Keep her eyes green for balance? I think of my own power and how I’ve been protecting others from it. I think of my art as a guide to what I need to be paying attention to. I find myself reeling, hurting, needing to see my grandmother as the world goes mad. I need to see her and let her love me and let her know that I love her as the world goes mad.
We are veterans, she and I, in this war against hate.
I need her to know that our hard-fought-for-forgiveness still stands and towers over the harm she did before my life began. I need her to know that I remember she tried to destroy my father and my mother’s love for him and that her family wanted to have me killed in the womb. I need her to know that I remember AND love her still.
I need her to see the truth before she dies – the impact of her upbringing on her family and the fact that love can conquer even this. I need her to know that I am here and I will hold her hand as she struggles over the stones placed in just the right places to be treacherous as her old feet seek a solid place to stand. She will not fall because I am here, black and white and strong and forgiving all that has been done.
I also need to thank her for showing me hate and how it works and for making the journey to the half-way point where I could meet her. Contrary to jaded belief, I did not need to defeat her. It took listening to understand from both places on either side of the divide. It took hearing the hurt beneath the hate, the love beneath the pain, the cry to be seen and accepted for us to be one again. Because we weren’t born to be two. Disharmony is learned and distrust is hard-earned.
My brown arm reaches out to steady her age-spotted once-white frame as she shuffles one uncertain foot in front of the other, reaching out unsteady, shifting weight slowly so as to allow the ground time to earn her trust – as she must have done with me. I need to see her today so she can put a balm on my wounds, rub my scars with gentle hands now wise to the lie she was told and told herself. We are not so different. I need to clean the flesh wounds and bind the bones from the week spent fighting with her kin struggling to let the light into their dark thoughts. I need her to remind me that the love on the other side is worth the war we wage today. My own blood – her people – would care as little if it were me shot in cold blood in front of my children or my local supermarket. My own flesh and blood would be fine with it if it were my blood spilled. When those who love me cry out “her life matters!” they will counter with “All lives matter.” They would help the system find a way to say I’d asked for it – after all “she was no saint.” They would care more about the police coming and taking their gun from their suburban homes than the white hoods or blue uniforms drawing me – their cousin – from my bed and hanging me from the nearest tree. She was no saint. She drove ten miles above the speed limit to work every day. She never used her turning signals to switch lanes. She was asking for it. She was no saint.
I need my grandmother today. For her I don’t need to be a saint. She won’t say a word. She won’t mention the news she’s been glued to immobile all week in her house alone. She won’t mention the hurt on my face or the limp I walk into the house with. She won’t even see the blood-red paint on my hands from the blood of Liberty that I’ve been moving around to keep my longing limbs coiled for a fight from adding to the harm already happening in the world. I will have to show her.
She will be glad to see me, pat the arm I offer, and squeeze my hand as she draws me closer. The best thing that ever happened to her, she says. God gave me to her, she says.
May God give every one of my racist kin a black baby to love.
I am serious. May all the young of my family find love in smoothe black embraces and may they kiss the faces of the killers of their hatred. May a beige-coloured love be our only fate as humanity faces the dawn of a new age. As people picket, pretending that the line between them exists, I will raise my afro-hooded face and lift my green eyes to the sky and call the divide of race a lie. The black spots of age bursting through the milk-white skin on my grandmother’s arms reveal the false god of white-supremacy.
In the end only the colors of love and wisdom win.
There is so much I need to write just to get it out of my system. The world has gone crazy and life is so uncertain. There are so many voices out there but none speak my truth. I looked to the blog where I put my professional opinion and coaching wisdoms and saw that this stuff bubbling up in me probably shouldn’t go there. This is more art than coaching, more heart than method. I looked to the other blog with my paintings and drawings and saw for myself the this is more word than image, more poem than paint. Where does it belong? Where should I go to speak the truth of my heart? Then I remembered once upon a time, many years and heartbreaks ago, I asked the same question (around the time I went to cut my hair). Then answer I created for myself was my own river to flow into the world with as simply me – the Singlestream. It was messy, it got me into trouble, it made me friends and lifelong enemies, it was hilarious and I belonged there.
Today marks a return to my blogging roots. I come with compassion for who I was when I was last here and with nostalgia that only comes when you visit a place you once called home only to find you are not the person you were when you left.
I went back to Durham a few years after leaving and found myself more sad than glad. Prebends Bridge was still there, but not the boy I made out with on a spring night before handing over my heart. Elves was as businesslike as usual but with no business of mine. The tree I looked out on when I would study in my room in E House at St. Aidan’s is still there, but gone are the smells of my housemates cooking downstairs or the sound of crazy Euro rock’n’roll across the hall. If I were to ever return it would be to build a new world around me and populate it afresh. I probably never will.
The Singlestream is different. This was and is wholly mine. I get to reconnect with old followers (HI GUYS! Hank, you still there?!) and I get to add to my tribe.
Things will be different this time. That is perfect in its own way.
Time to let the river run…