Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The People's Inauguration -- Ohio Style?

Today was a day I had a faculty meeting get rescheduled, so I cleared the rest of it to write. I’ve been working on an archaeological-integrative-personal project that has professional-theological implications. There’s an ember within me about that I thought was supposed to spark and flicker today. Imagine my surprise, resistance, and eventual acquiescence, then, when I learned today was not supposed to be about that at all. An email and project-detail about The People’s Inauguration landed in my Inbox. I clicked the link, and saw a glimpse of a free online 10-day event to begin January 21st, what looks like a series of webinars over a period of ten days. The stated purpose is to bring our communities together, tend our wounds, reimagine new ways of being human with one another block-by-block, heart-by-heart, in these here United States (paraphrase). I haven’t had a felt-sense of leading whoosh into me like this for a while, but I’ve grown to trust the energy and flow with it. It took over my morning, and so now I am writing, but this instead...

This phrase, “The People’s Inauguration,” resonates so deeply with the heart and soul of this blog project, "reconsidering citizenship," after all. Healing the heart of our democracy. Learning to see one another anew, again, renewed with curiosity, wonder, capacity to hold ambiguity and irreconcilable difference. I don’t know--really--the talking heads of this particular initiative, partnership of Valerie Kaur and SoundsTrue--but for me, it almost doesn’t matter. There’s an umbrella under which to invite and listen and be surprised and even shocked with people in my life who think and vote quite differently than I do, yet whom I love (and who love me) as we go about our daily lives of fitness, work, play, family, friends. This is what the title phrase lit within me. The People’s Inauguration. 

I realize now that my timing might have been better, to share my energies and hope for moving beyond where we are now, however you might describe that today. It’s the January 6th meeting of Congress to ‘count the votes of the Electoral College’ and a day of vote-tallying in Georgia about the two run-off races for the Senate. Tensions are high and there’s not a lot of space to suggest ‘moving on’ without stepping on the toes who aren’t ready to be moving on yet. Just now, we learn that the Capitol buildings are on lockdown with pro-Trump supporters breaching the buildings and clashing with police, tear-gas, and more. Lesson #1 then, today: Resonance and energy are gifts of leadings, but acting on those energies may go better waiting and seeing, listening and loving in the face of violence. Standing firm in the face of authoritarian refusals of a peaceful transition of power, but loving in the face of violence... Deep breath...

The interactions I have had with spirit-friends today have been fascinating though. I’m an intuitive-strategic feeling-thinker who can perceive a possibility months or years down the road with an email, with a web-site, with an initiative that lights up the feeling center within me. I’ve learned to trust that feeling-center, as it has led me to more abundance and sacred encounter than anything I’ve ever read, listened to on tape, or learned from a class. One of the things that doesn’t come with me, however, is an immediate-clear articulation of what I can see months-years down the road, with this particular email, web-site, initiative. Blessedly, my friends and even some of my family are patient with this in me. And this charism-challenge that lives in me serves its holy purposes too: I learn from others’ reactions and responses more about what could grow if more of us decided to get involved in it together. Hence, fascinating reactions help craft and create whatever will be…with those willing to co-create.

One friend who serves in what I’ve sometimes called “a Jewish thinktank” for Jewish communities and wisdom in the world today jumped right into the possibility, like he does. He shared reservation after reservation about participating in something that ‘would probably require Trump participants to come in as penitents.’ He spoke of the regular liberals-gatherings where those who want to feel better about themselves and the world come together for their cause all while treating others like garbage. “I’ve gone many places in my job where people treat me like garbage, and that's okay,” he mused sadly but with a smiling-tone. “I won’t invite others to places where others will treat them like garbage.” I know precisely what he’s talking about, though he didn’t share any of his own stories. I’ve known that story often myself, my own versions of it. Still...

Nothing I had read or was feeling about this possibility seemed anything like that at all, so I got curious. Was this coming from his own inner-work/reactivities or did he know something from previous experience(s) with some of these folks in his more national-urbanite contexts? We eventually got to talk at some length on the phone, which was marvelous. [I’m not sure how well this will ‘translate’ without giving a lot of background detail about this friend…but...] He’s someone who had been quite rigid in his faith tradition--a fundamentalism or fanaticism energizing his thought and practice--yet whose journey has led him into much more paradoxical wisdom, what I (and Maggie Ross, for that matter) might call spiritual maturity.* He has an excellent sixth-sense for calling out false-oppositions and inviting instead open-hearted both/ands rooted in wonder and curiosity. Part of why we work together, actually. We can catch each other’s blind spots.

So I find myself sitting here, musing, “ this is how the Work begins then…” I got to mirror a bit of his reactivity, his immediate judgment within a more urban, media-oriented perception of the world. He was several blocks down a sidewalk I wasn’t seeing or choosing at all, one with judgments made from media-coverage of individuals and felt-senses of what they were already going to say.

As I wrote to him, “I'm fascinated by your resistance, and frankly, your immediate political judgment (though I can understand some of it, given the much more public and urban work you do, immersed in much more of this political discourse stream than I desire to sustain myself...). In other words, I don't begrudge you your immediate response and well-articulated hesitations. The conversation I'm imagining that could get started could not unfold if Trump supporters had to come, penitential like. I'm guessing that the way conversations happen 'out here' and the way you are imagining them in your own context are simply vastly different affairs.” 

I then began to describe what the resonance and felt-sense in me was about all this… Conversation starters, even if the speakers seemed from outer left field (literally :)). Opportunities to really hear what this discourse felt like, sounds like, to those who see the world so differently than I do--what does the phrase, “learning to be and live with one another in new ways” even sound like to each of us? What reactivities and triggers get sprung with this incredibly vague question, intentionally apolitical as it is written here? I’m imagining conversation starters and opportunities to rant, vent, rage, and disagree. Opportunities to speak freely and be heard deeply, without allowing media-outlets to get in between. THIS is what draws me in. THIS is the work I see before us…

By the time my friend and I landed as deeply into the conversation as we desired, for today at least, he planted a seed I want to name and honor here too. He repeated it in voice, after planting it in text, to be sure I was listening. [Sometimes repetition IS required when I’m into a new stream of possibility. :)] “If it was something YOU were gathering, a space YOU were holding, I’d participate in a heart-beat. Even have things to say, perhaps. But too many of my own family have been killed in “movements” with the convictions of “revolutionary love” for me to warm to this one.” I startled a bit, feeling myself sitting back into the couch. It’s not missed my attention that some friends responded immediately to my text of invitation while others did not. I release stories I have inside me about any of that, but doing this Work Ohio-style will be different than national-media-liberal-conservative.

Makes me begin to wonder aloud then...what might a people’s inauguration Ohio-style look like, aiming for love that is fragile, curious, welcoming, and co-creative? Not revolutionary. Not a movement. Just faithful, friendly, disagreeable but hysterically lovable Midwesterners living more deeply into their lives in some new ways…? What would we create, if we were gonna…?

I’m still going to listen to what the talking heads have to say. I do love to learn, after all.

*spiritual maturity? "In spiritual maturity we are able to live in ambiguity without leaning on props or propositions. We have deepening love for Scripture and symbol and liturgy, but realize that they are feeding us only so that we may go into the desert and wait, watching in the dark. ... We are quick to realize and acknowledge when we do not know, when we cannot know, and when we presume. We are quick to admit errors, and we are willing to live in the ambiguity of not knowing without trying to manufacture a surrogate, a graspable substitute. We know that by remaining in unknowing, a truer, deeper engagement and insight will be given us: we will more deeply come to be. In spiritual maturity we are willing to live in the tension of sustained paradox, in engagement with I WILL BE without trying to posit and determine and therefore control and make an idol of God. ... We recognize that there is suffering that will come to us that must not be avoided but embraced and lived through, that there is suffering that we must hand our selves over to in order to continue to mature. (Maggie Ross, Pillars of Flame, 190ff.)

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