WITH HELICOPTERS flying overhead every night, sirens blasting, protestors shouting for racial justice on the streets, and so many people, their health vulnerable, afraid to venture outside: Being alive today hurts. Above and beyond the police brutality and racial violence witnessed in videos, living within the oppressive constraints of the pandemic has opened the eyes of many privileged white people to what it has always meant for people of color to live with chronic danger, worried daily about health and safety, for themselves and their loved ones. [Not my original idea. Check out this amazing vlog by Libra Forde!]
None of us can see what’s on the other side of this painfully heavy time. As I’ve been speaking with health and human services professionals throughout the state, I’ve been sharing two quotes from very different writers that give me hope:
I have come to understand what I call a transcendent response to trauma. When something too big for us to handle happens to us, our only healthy response is to grow bigger. —Mary Pipher
Let me fall if I must fall. The one I will become will catch me. —Bael Shem Tov
American Psychologist Mary Pipher expresses her confidence that human beings can transcend suffering, become bigger. She’s seen it happen in her practice as a psychologist for forty years. Eighteenth century Jewish mystic and healer Bael Shem Tov espouses his faith that leaning into, accepting, our vulnerability leads to wisdom. Both writers, from very different times, speak to a faith in transcendence through suffering.
When unbearable things occur, we have to cast aside old identities, invent new ones to meet a changed world. As our compassion expands, these writers seem to be saying, we become bigger.
As you hang in there during this uncertain time, recall the uplifting words of poet Lucille Clifton:
i stand up
through your destruction
i stand up
Your words are very powerful and will offer empowering to all that listen.Reply