I wrote this the other day and for some reason, I did not hit publish. The more I think about it, the more I think that being called to stillness for Lent. Such an act could be interpreted at not doing anything, or not doing enough to resist all the things that are happening. However, we face a long challenge – a very long, difficult challenge. In the stillness comes the answers, at least that is what I am thinking. To be continued before Lent begins… What are your thoughts? I ask because we all need one another at this time. Let me know in the comments.
Right now I am thinking about being a little kid. Someone – I don’t know who, my much older brother, my uncle, a neighbor – I can’t be sure, has placed the palm of their hand on top of my head, their fingers trailing down like a bad wig on top of my hair. Now their forearm is very straight, held in place with their adult strength. Me? I feel ashamed, because that is the feeling most commonly found in my heart, ashamed for being me, for being alive, for being. And I feel angry, because I am always angry, I am just too young to understand that, and with no way to process the anger, I emit waves of emotion like a gas permeating the air. (That is often still the case, even though I am well versed in anger expression at this point in my life.) Also, I feel frustrated, trapped, and more than a little afraid. Of course at age, 5-6-7-8 I have no clue of anything that I am feeling.
The hot tears roll down my reddened face like oil overflowing a hot pan. The more I struggle, the more tightly I seem to be held in place. All the adults are chuckling away, but I fail to see the humor in the moment. Frankly, I probably fail to see anything because my anxiety at age 5-6-7-8 has skyrocketed. All I do is fight with the force of that hand on my skull, pushing, flailing, as the person (why can’t I see their face?) roars with laughter, and everyone else does too. Eventually I just give up and like magic, he removes his hand. I tried to find a photo on this internet of this once common “joke,” but no such photo came up in any search. Maybe it is just as well.
What a lesson that moment holds for today. Resistance, a common theme of the moment is necessary, but just how that resistance is encountered matters. Feeling powerless, angry, exhausted, trapped – although not ashamed – I find myself face to face with making choices.
It is important to resist. For example, we cannot go where our consciences forbid us to go. That means I cannot ignore certain things, it means I will work against things in ways that are legal and moral. That said, there is a part of me that is thinking about the moment I would just give up as a kid… When I stopped resisting, I was awash in waves of shame, but also of relief.
At the age of 5-6-7-8 I could not discern that in , I might find freedom in surrender. Slowly the dawn breaks over the shores of resistance, bringing with it light and clarity. Resistance today might mean forms of defecting in place instead of flailing, fighting, shouting, and more. Today it seems to me that the more I resist, the less I can move. And the less I can move means that my real goals will remain unmet.
Fran, I don’t know what I think about that right now. But I do know that we all do need each other in these difficult times. Thank you for that.
Fran, As you know I am not American and so perhaps should not comment on the affairs of your country. Therefore I will offer two quotations from European politicians. Firstly ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’ Edmund Burke an Irish statesman (1729-1797) and secondly: ‘ If a lie is repeated often enough it will be accepted as the truth’ Josef Goebbels, a Nazi statesman. Yes resistance is necessary but it must be properly organised and well focused so as not to degenerate into rabble rousing. Jesus gave an example of resistance by clearing the money changers from the temple. I fills me with horror to see history repeating itself in my lifetime.God bless you in your endeavours.. .
This is thoughtful, apt and insightful. We must resist but if we wear ourselves out in the process our resistance is wasted. These days, Berrigan’s “Know where you stand and stand there.” keeps coming up for me. There is great power in that stillness.