An Uncomfortable Week-Part 1

I try to avoid politics as much as I can on this blog. I like people and I want my followers to be comfortable reading of my adventures out in the big wide world. I like that people can read my posts and laugh, cry, and be moved or bored. Today I am stepping out of my and maybe your comfort zone.

This past week has been a roller coaster of emotions for me. I have felt sad, horrified, and angry. I have also noted moments of reflection about the times I have been to the United States Capitol in Washington DC.

Like most people, seeing the Capitol building assaulted by a group of people who were out for blood and “revolution” broke my heart. Who are these people? What gives them the right to desecrate this incredibly gorgeous building? They said this was their home and they were taking it back. Well if it is their home it is mine too and I am not happy with how these groups treated my home. I am not happy with how they treated the nation. I am not happy at all.

Who are these people? I read an article that said they urinated in the halls, spread feces on the walls, and destroyed for the sake of destroying. Who does this? Who thinks this is a good idea? I cannot support a revolution where people think this is OK. Who taught them that this kind of action is OK?

I felt such pain for that building. Have you ever been there? If not you should go, well not now. The historic buildings in Washington DC are incredible works of art. They are not buildings, they stand for so much more. After several architects, the Capitol building was completed in 1836. It had already witnessed an attempt at its own destruction during the War of 1812 when the British tried to burn it to the ground. It didn’t work and it remains a symbol of a now floundering democracy today.

Capitol Rotunda.

I read that some of the rioters after breaking into the rotunda dropped their mouths when they looked up at the rotunda. They started to take photos. Who can blame them, it is a beautiful space. This is what they wanted to destroy. Some said that this is a symbol of what is wrong with this country. I disagree, this is a symbol of what is right in our country. This is a symbol of freedom. Freedom from the oppression of the British. Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Speech. Freedom to become better. I don’t believe it is the freedom to destroy.

After the grounds were finally secured, the cleaning up began. Who cleaned this mess left by mostly white supremacists? It was black people whose job is to take care of our house. I read an article about these people and I know it may sound a bit romantic but, here is the final quote in the article. “With each stroke of the broom, they were slowly helping to piece this democracy back together. It’s what Black people have always done, no matter the circumstances, no matter the burden placed upon their back.” I couldn’t agree more although I believe I would add many people of color and caucasian as well.

There was one other person helping to pick up the mess that these groups left behind. New Jersey Representative Andy Kim was helping the other workers.

“When he finally did walk around the rotunda — his favorite and arguably the most storied room of the building — the disarray left him speechless. Water bottles, broken furniture, tattered Trump flags and pieces of body armor and clothing were strewn on the marble floor as if it were an abandoned parking lot.

“I was just overwhelmed with emotion,” Kim, 38, told NBC Asian America. “It’s a room that I love so much — it’s the heart of the Capitol, literally the heart of this country. It pained me so much to see it in this kind of condition.”

So for the next hour and a half, he crouched down and filled a half dozen trash bags with debris. When he finished cleaning up the rotunda, he began working on the adjacent rooms, including the National Statuary Hall and the Capitol crypt downstairs.

Then he returned to the House floor to debate Pennsylvania’s vote count, a session that lasted until 3 a.m. By Thursday evening, he’d been awake for more than 36 hours.

On a day in which video of mayhem and bloodshed inundated social media, a widely shared photograph of Kim, alone on his knees, picking up the final pieces of garbage in a nearly empty rotunda, was a radical break from — and rejection of — the violent impulses that drove the country to the brink of collapse. Many people labeled him a “true patriot.” While Kim said he didn’t dwell much on the symbolic heft of his actions, the term was on his mind.”          Asian American News

Today I am proud of Andy Kim. He represents what is right in this country. He represents what is right in our government. He and others like him project hope for the future.

I have biked and kayaked and walked my way through the end of the week. I seek nature when my head and heart can handle it no more. I feel sad for this country at the moment. Our leadership has created such divisiveness and I am not sure that it will be easily corrected. As this country has done before I believe we will persevere and move forward hopefully in a more gentle direction.

Meanwhile, I will breathe. My niece, who is a youth minister in the Presbyterian Church shared a meditation when this was happening on Wednesday. Brittany, I changed the words a little. I will breathe in peace and I will breathe out peace to others. Breathing is sometimes all one can do.

I may send some love to my amazing and steadfast home in DC as well.

This is a part 1 in a series of at least 2. If you don’t want to read it, you don’t have to.

Bearing Witness

For twelve years I was an attendee of the local San Diego Society of Friends, more commonly referred to as the Quakers. Bearing Witness is an important part of their belief and practice.

“Bearing witness is largely nonverbal. It is being a compassionate observer to the unfolding of another person’s life or a particular moment or event.” The Power of Bearing Witness”-Judith Johnson

We, all of us, at some point or another in our lives come upon crisis, large or small, good or not so good, it really makes no difference. When crisis or trauma unfolds I believe that it is helpful to have those around us who can bear witness for each other. Sometimes we help each other sort through our feelings. More often we become someone who listens and observes while the other person speaks freely from their heart. Some times it is a quiet role of helping to hold the space so the other person can take care of the business at hand.

Guests at a wedding are bearing witness. Any time any of us gather in small or large groups we bear witness to that event in time. 

“When we bear witness, we lovingly give our attention to the other without judgment. We comfort without smothering. We play a supporting role — powerfully upholding the other starring in his or her life. It is not about us. It is about them. Yet, we make a profound decision when we do not try to fix their pain and suffering or share in their experience by telling how we had a similar experience. Bearing witness says, “You are not alone. I see you. I witness what you are experiencing. What you are experiencing matters to me. I surround you with my love.” The Power of Bearing Witness-Judith Johnson

Recently I was reminded again of the importance of bearing witness. A good and dear friend of mine received some painful news. Most of the day was spent on the phone and speaking with others. I began during this process to become aware of my role, bearing witness. Being in the immediate environment, as a witness to this time, I held the space so that she could make the phone calls she needed to. It felt important to let her know she was in a kind and loving space and she could take care of business. When and if she was ready, I was there for her to talk with. I was bearing witness.

One of my favorite quotes is “We are just walking each other home”. I believe we bear witness or honor the other person and know we are each on the same path, even though we may have different directions to get there. There is nothing more honorable and special in my heart than to help each other through all the different times in our lives.

 

Many have born witness for me over the past four and half years since my husband, Jim’s death. My community of friends has grown stronger. I am only now, beginning to recognize the importance that their role was for me in those first few years after he died. Most of these friends began to bear witness for me and Jim together when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I appreciate now, how much each person has offered to me. Some gave me space to talk and cry. Others kept me distracted, playing games, going to the movies, seeing an art exhibit. All of this support offered me space to grieve and begin to heal. We do this for each other. Sometimes it is all any of us can do.

There are many sides to bearing witness. I have become more conscious of this roll as I have matured. Although Jim’s death was hard, I still see that time as something I am so grateful for. We were all right there in the moment. It was special, unique, sad, loving and every other emotion the world. All of us that were with him until the moment of his death were bearing witness to a very special moment in time.  I may not always be happy with the outcome yet I am so thankful for the moment.

Lately I have been having these flashes of the events of the day he died.  They arrive, quite unexpectedly and then within seconds they are gone. I am left sitting at a stoplight in wonder. I feel that I am finally able to sift through that day, those events, without pain. The fact that these moments come quickly and leave quickly is important. I feel that these moments have been creating space for me to consider such topics as “Bearing Witness”.

Today I am thankful for those who have actively and not so actively held the space for me. I am thankful for the times I have held the space for others. I am thankful for Bearing Witness.

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