On Tuesday morning, I listened to a recording from my wise and dedicated friends at Sounds True. They’re in the midst of their 2018 online event called Waking Up In the World.
There are many powerful thinkers and speakers in the group. The one I most wanted to hear was on the schedule for Monday evening but I was up to my eyebrows in paint and laundry and dinner and I missed it.
Fortunately, each recording is available, free, for 24 hours and so, early Tuesday, I was plugged in, over a cup of green tea with jasmine and a hint of citrus. I had no idea, when I curled up in one of my magic chairs that make everything hurt less, how much I was going to need the words, the cadences, the heart, of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
She began, as she usually does, with a variation on the invocation that lives deep inside me: “Welcome to the fire of the Dangerous Old Woman… Tribe of the sacred heart… many of us scar clan. Still standing. Still dancing.”
And then she went on to her particular topic of “Still sowing the seeds of new life.”
A Jungian analyst, post traumatic stress specialist, and Contadora — keeper of the old stories — Dr. E. wandered her way through a personal and riveting view of history until she arrived at this time and claimed, as she has been known to do, that “we were created for such a time as this.”
Familiar comfort and gentle nudging in my world, for a regular week.
This has not exactly been one of those.
A bit later on Tuesday the news came that a dear cousin and friend was gravely ill following a cardiac arrest and there was concern about likely brain injury.
East Coast and Midwest family members have been making their way West. There have been painful, tragic decisions to be made.
Early this morning, she passed from this world into the next. We are deeply grateful for all your prayers and concern.
And, while this story is a family thing, it’s a story so many families I know are living in this moment.
In the same way, the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors, sprouting all over social media, is a symbol for a personal story so many of us have experienced that it seems the only thing to do is to make it a national story as well. Or, rather, a human, global story.
Non-consensual sexual impropriety is a misuse of power. Period.
And I would go so far as to claim that affirming — or even overlooking — that misuse of power is to participate willingly in its tragic impact on all the generations to follow.
Dr. Estes, who is a great deal like my Gramma Elsie was, would remind all of us that the enormous misuse of power being enacted on Capitol Hill in the US is exactly such a time for which we were created.
So what do we do?
What do we do in our families and in a nation that is a major player on the world stage, whether it is our own or not?
Well, to borrow a metaphor from one of the wisest elders I know, we sort the seeds, which, in many parts of the world is called voting.
And, with apologies for not having the exact quotes, we plant and tend and support. You’ll know what that means in your world.
And we tell the stories — and paint the images — of the strong, vibrant, life-giving women in our families… the mortal and the spiritual and the legendary.
And we look for opportunities presented to us by second graders named Luke who are collecting donated toys and books and art supplies for families of pre-school and elementary aged refugee children in whatever hood we call home.
And, perhaps most importantly of all… we tell our peeps we love them. Whoever they are and however far away.
Because this is how change happens.
Here’s to you, dear Chris. And to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. And to Dr. Estes. And to Gramma Elsie. And to all the fiercely compassionate women who stand up and sow seeds to make the world a better place. And to kids like Luke.
l’chaim. To life, for us all. Still dancing.
(The art is a snipet from my SoulFire painting. Color of Women 2018)