One Life But We’re Not the Same

untitled-design-9

 

One love

One blood

One life

You got to do what you should

One life

With each other

Sisters

Brothers

One life

But we’re not the same

We get to 

Carry each other

Carry each other

One…life

One

-U2 “One”

This final week of election season 2016, in a year already fraught with so much death and destruction, fear and animosity, lies and greed. This final week, will we make it? Will we reach this collective finish line, our goodness still sewn, our wonder and gratitude unblemished, our humanity intact? I’m working so hard. These past months have tested my mettle, my own humanity, goodness, wonder and gratitude. The suffering of loved ones and friends, the racism and xenophobia, the lies and fear of the other have unraveled me in tiny bits, and yet, I am better. I have discovered a faith I did not own before, a new, more patient compassion.

One of the places I go when I need perspective and a little exercise, but am short on time, is my neighborhood park. There is this stretch where the Cottonwoods droop just right, forming a canopy over the path while the stream meanders gently alongside.  Tall, unkempt grass provides the perfect entertainment for Clem, my Golden Doodle. When the coast is clear, as it frequently is, I unclip her from the leash, allowing her to bound and stride with abandon. While she lurches forward and back, behind and before me, her nose grazing the underbrush as she darts through the wild landscape, inhaling with happiness.

Silhouetted against the azure, uninterrupted sky, the trees’ spindly arms yearn upward and out, as if awaiting an affirming word from their Maker. The rich palette of color a demonstration of grace’s complete perfection, in the moment, for me. The pleasant chorus of birds, crunching dry leaves and the gentle gurgle of the stream ease me into a state of gratitude and renewal.

Last Sunday, while seeking this routine solace, I was jerked to reality. The sprawling, manicured two-acre parcel of land abutting the opposite side of the stream was pocked with dozens of Presidential signs. They could not be ignored, placed with purpose in obvious eyesight of anyone out for a therapeutic stroll. This path, my path, corrupted. The beauty was still there, that didn’t change, but I could not attend to my peace-seeking without agitation, without dismay. Beauty and unlovely dwelled together. Natural and artificial. My relief and renewal held captive by the flagrant display of all that I attempted to avoid.

When our eyes are opened, when we choose to see, our world is a commingling of opposites. Grief and joy often travel in pairs, as does living with purpose and surrendering our plans.  We leave one set of rules to discover another, the dichotomy enough to send us back to the familiar, and often painful. The temptation is to avert our eyes, to only see what is pleasing, to only experience what is comfortable, to only engage what is understood. This avoidance fails to serve us, this denial creates a one-dimensional experience that renders us shallow, dull, unavailable. When we see and engage and choose discomfort, we become custodians of the highest order, we become custodians of the both-and.

I chose to continue my walk even though I was taken aback and more than a little bothered. But, these are my neighbors. These are the people I’m invited to know and commune with. My work is to choose engagement, even though it might be uncomfortable. My work is to choose peace, even though I don’t agree. My work is to choose to see, to engage the beauty and the dissonance. Both-and.

In this final week of what feels like the 26th mile of an uphill-both-ways marathon, instead of investing in the contention, in the he said, she said maybe we can offer kindness, reclaiming beauty amidst the ugly, amidst the fear, amidst the confusion.

I will do everything in my power to avoid a hardened heart on Wednesday, November 9. I do not want to live in fear for the direction of my nation and world. I do not want to operate out of derision and distrust of another. This is it, this life is all we’ve got.

How do we bring the relief we are called to bring?

The restoration of our humanity may hinge upon our ability to love one another and ourselves. These are the times to practice radical self-care, to seek to understand the both-and of life.

We must nurture our own souls and bodies, hearts and minds, fighting back the hopelessness and despair, cultivating generosity of mind and spirit.

We call out hate and we see the people we consider other. We see the people that hurt, that live in the margins.

We dismantle the work of fear by removing the walls brick by brick that divide our human camp into us versus them.

And, in turn, we build the house of WE – one human race – as we walk the difficult path, the path of setting aside our fear, our comfort, our strong opinions and we choose work of community and relationship over blame and separation.

One life

But we’re not the same

We get to 

Carry each other

Carry each other

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *