For me personally, last year was one of regrouping and coming to grips with the reality of some recent dramatic changes in my life. It took me a long time to realize that putting off dealing with the pain and confronting it head on was only prolonging the agony. When Danna Faulds’ poem, “Allow,” came into my life it was sweet consolation and perfect timing. I believe that people, and poems, come into our lives when we need them the most, although it may be no more than chance that the circumstances of our lives make us eager to latch on and to respond when they appear and open a door to us. Whether fate or chance, this poem saved my skin more than once in 2016, and I share it with you here in the hope that it might come to you in ways that bring grace to your emergent days of 2017.
My salve arrived in this line: practice becomes simply bearing the truth. Not avoiding the truth, blocking it out, distorting it, raging against it, plotting to change it – simply bearing it. This is the daily practice. It has to be – there is no choice. This bearing of truths which are, in fact, not bearable – this is not simply a “giving up the good fight” or “moving on.” It is not accepting loss. It is, simply bearing it. Looking it in the eye, and bearing it.
Perhaps we all go through periods of time, extended or short-lived, when we fear in our heart of hearts that we are not going to survive. Then everything is distorted: sadness becomes a sister, a twin, the other half – anxiety and fear become setting and situation, pain is homebase, and the struggle to make it through to each day’s end is an endurance test beyond imagining. Not everyone survives, but if we do, sometimes real truths can fall into place. The universe, and a realization of our place in it, become much simpler. It’s a matter of being present in the world as it actually is. It is paying attention to all things and letting them speak in their own voices – and having the humility not to shut out any part of the dynamic, but just let it be.
As a wider human community, we must face head on the reality of Trump’s inauguration and the state of our nation and not avert our eyes or the subvert the truth with gallows humor or feigned indifference. We have to bear the truth that such a man was elected president. Bear the truth that it’s 2017, and we still have so far to go in terms of accepting each other for what and who we are – of equal worth, of equal value. Bear that it’s 2017 and inhumane acts which cause irretrievable harm are committed every day in front of our eyes, and unjust laws and unwritten customs relegate some people to the bottom of the pile and lift others to the top, regardless of worthiness. Bear that it’s 2017 and there are those who believe that loving, giving, and beautiful gay people are unnatural perverts, that African-Americans are inherently inferior, that a woman’s place is always subordinate to a man’s, that there is no room in America for immigrant dreamers, that might makes right and we can bomb the hell out of any opponent. If we practice every day bearing these truths, then eventually, possibly, they will lose their hold of pain and terror over us. And then we can choose a new way of being. A way that unites us with those who do not feel this hatred and otherness, who know we are capable of so much more. Only then can we come together as whole beings able to lift each other up and be lifted up, in return. Let’s start with the Women’s March on Washington. And we’ll go from there.