CW: Strong language regarding President Trump, rape and sexual assault.
Also, please do not forget that Washington, DC was put under martial law on 2 June.
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Have you ever sung in a choir or played a wind instrument in an orchestra?
Have you ever sung or played as part of a gorgeous, long chord with several parts, holding a sustained note?
It’s not rocket science, right? People breathe as they need to and return to the note that others have been holding. Then the ones who have breathed and return support the note when the original group needs to breathe and catch up. A sustained note, a sustained effort, takes both the expression of the song and the breathing in between.
When Trump was elected, and particularly in the time following his inauguration, I tapped out. I was tapped out. I had nothing to give. I tried, and I made myself very sick, depressed, and a danger to myself. I ended up in what I called “the holding pen” of a psych hospital for a day and a half until I could get admitted and spend a week there, just gathering enough centeredness and strength to be safe and try to do my work. To try to show up for my family, especially my wife, who came to see me every day after I was admitted. To try to show up for you, the people to whom I have committed my ministry of The Way of the River.
But for a while, I just couldn’t do it. For the first time since I started in 2014, there were no editions of Reflections for two weeks in a row.
I just couldn’t. Do. A. Thing.
I’d watch the new President and get nauseated. Seriously feel as though I was going to throw up. I’d watch and listen and feel the trauma in my body, remembering my own sexual assaults and knowing that this President is a rapist. That he dragged a journalist into Neiman Marcus and dragged her into a dressing room and raped her and walked off.
I finally learned that I couldn’t watch or listen to the Rapist in Chief anymore. I still don’t. There’s just no point. I can read the Guardian or listen to Democracy Now (carefully) or read other printed news without subjecting myself to the sound of his voice.
On 2 June of this year, Rapist in Chief ordered the 82nd Airborne into Washington, DC. The Head of the Joint Chiefs was not in favor of this action but was overruled. Just what his position became, as of this writing, is unclear.
After that order, the President had peaceful, daytime protestors in Lafayette Park tear gassed and flash bombed so that he could walk across the street for a blasphemous photo opportunity.
You know all this. I’m almost sure of it. But do you know that these actions constitute martial law. For however long they last, there has been a period of time when the capital of the nation has been under martial law. I think, for those of us who grew up in the ‘80s, we have this sense that martial law has to be “declared,” in some way. But it doesn’t. It just has to be enacted. And calling in helicopters to disperse protestors, tear gassing trapped protestors who had nowhere to go, and making it very clear that he has no compunction about using force against his own people, whether they are protesting peacefully or not. That, my friends, is martial law.
But in March of 2017, I couldn’t have written about things like that. I could hardly write anything.
I was tapped out.
And you know what? I don’t feel a shred of guilt about it. (Go Team Progress!) Not a shred. I hear a lot of us saying that we wish we could do more, that we’re not feeling productive or connected or able to do either our paid work (if we still have it) our housework, our family work, much less put our bodies and words on the line.
Take a breath. Take a whole breather. And don’t feel bad about it for a second.
Take stock of what you can take in and what you can’t. I cannot watch the Rapist in Chief. Okay, so I’ve made that choice. Making that choice has helped me immensely. It has made it possible for me to write my Statement of Conscience and send it to you. It is making it possible for me to listen to podcasts and watch some videos of people I trust.
And so breathing, taking time outs, napping, eating well (not getting outside enough, but you can’t have everything, I suppose), and trying to do my best by y’all is really helping. Thank you for being here.
So breathe deeply into the embrace of Earth, the embrace of gravity, the embrace of Gaia, and know that you are here. You are standing in the Center of your own Circle with the Directions around you, and the only things required of you are that you be faithful to your conscience, faithful to those you love, faithful to the call of Love within your heart.
Breathe, and then come back when you can. I know I’ll need to breathe deeply again. And then I’ll remember, as I do in this moment, that I can help hold the sustained note of pressure, of protest, and of clarity for the nation. I’ll remember that the Rapist in Chief won’t win – not if we keep breathing, he won’t.
So tap out when you need to, and know that it’s okay. We’ll be waiting for you when you can come back in.