Today’s Sabbath meditation

The late Vermont poet David Budbill wrote:

Sometimes when day after day we have cloudless blue skies,

warm temperatures, colorful trees and brilliant sun, when

it seems like all this will go on forever,

when I harvest vegetables from the garden all day,

then drink tea and doze in the late afternoon sun,

and in the evening one night make pickled beets

and green tomato chutney, the next red tomato chutney,

and the day after that pick the fruits of my arbor

and make grape jam,

when we walk in the woods every evening over fallen leaves,

through yellow light, when nights are cool, and days warm,

when I am so happy I am afraid I might explode or disappear

or somehow be taken away from all this,

at those times when I feel so happy, so good, so alive, so in love

with the world, with my own sensuous, beautiful life, suddenly

I think about all the suffering and pain in the world, the agony

and dying. I think about all those people being tortured, right now,

in my name. But I still feel happy and good, alive and in love with

the world and with my lucky, guilty, sensuous, beautiful life because,

I know in the next minute or tomorrow all this may be

taken from me, and therefore I’ve got to say, right now,

what I feel and know and see, I’ve got to say, right now,

how beautiful and sweet this world can be.

 

It’s Thanksgiving. And these are troubling times. Thus we are called upon to embody the audacity of gratitude David Budbill evinces—a gratitude born of chutzpah as we enumerate our countless blessings while mopping the sweat of anxiety from our brow.

Precisely because so many of us experience the beauty and sweetness, these months have been especially trying. Hate crimes are up. The uncertainty of our own lives are but a thumbnail image of the larger world. Many of us are still grappling with how best to move forward, or even to move at all. Reading Twitter and Facebook feels more like navigating through a minefield than perusing social media. Hopefully, your holiday gatherings were peaceful with only the poor turkey receiving jabs. Thankfully, there’s also been an uptick in the calls for compassion and civility to counter the divisiveness and hostility.

My friend Clark posted a blog with a useful list to-do list: writing his representatives, wearing a safety pin, donating to the ACLU, subscribing to at least two newspapers, challenging bigoted speech, reading more widely, joining a social justice initiative, continuing to teach critical thinking and reading skills in his first year writing course. In short, practicing tikkun olam in any and all the ways it makes sense in the spot where history and privilege have placed us.

I, too, teach a first-year critical thinking and writing course called Forgiveness and Reconciliation. I spent this entire week including Thanksgiving Day reading the third drafts of required research essays. I am grateful for students who write passionately about the unfairness of police brutality and mass incarceration—and the ones who wrestle in words to forgive an actively alcoholic parent. I am grateful for students excited about restorative justice. On November ninth, I appreciated the twenty individual conferences I had with students that compelled me out of bed to summon a non-anxious presence and get to work helping eighteen-year-olds make the leap from report to essay, statement to idea. And the next day, when I received an email informing me my spring course had been reassigned to a tenured faculty member, I blanched at the loss of income yet the loss of utility pained me as much because we all want to be of use. Especially now. The question is how?

What is required of us?

David Budbill gives us one answer: to be daily celebrants of Creation. To let no morsel of delight pass through our lips without notice, to set down the dishcloth or Iphone and stand in awe of the Super Moon, to feel the softness of our child’s face, or our dog’s velvet ears, to be enraptured by music as splendid as what we hear today. To marvel in the shower of blessing that falls on us even as so many languish in ever-expanding plains of drought.

And then we must get to the hard task of addressing the inequity of good fortune, the paucity of fairness, the scourge of hubris.

Writing in the second half of the eighth century BCE, in Judah, the southern kingdom ruled by corrupt and ineffective kings, the prophet Micah listens to the conversation between God and God’s people, who have disappointed the Lord their God mightily. Perhaps not so unlike Mary Oliver’s pithiest poem, “On Watching a Documentary about Polar Bears Trying to Survive the Melting Ice Floes—That God had a plan I do not doubt. But what if his plan was, that we do better?”

As biblical scholar Amy Oden elucidates the text of Micah,

This is the God who hears the cries of the people and brings them out of slavery. This is the God who will use even the outsider to bring blessings. This is the God who shows compassion and mercy when the people fall. Even the people’s idolatry and injustice cannot prevent this God from acting. This is the God who is faithful no matter what. The entire creation stands witness to this God made manifest in these acts.[1]

And in return, the people who have behaved unfaithfully ask what will appease their disappointed God? Burnt offerings, yearling calves, thousands of rams, rivers of oil, their firstborn?

To which Micah responds: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

As Amy Oden notes in her commentary on this passage,

To enact justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God, are not single acts that can be checked off the list and left behind. On an individual and social scale, in ways large and small, this is a way of life. Periodic nods to equity do not constitute a faithful life, Micah tells us. We cannot only observe racial membership quotas on committees in place of seeking racial justice. We cannot send checks for disaster relief and avoid examining the lifestyles that contribute, at least in part, to some natural disasters. We cannot do hunger walks and refuse to change our consumerist lifestyles. We cannot confess with our lips on Sunday morning and hold grudges at work on Monday.

Oy. That’s discomfiting. For it is far easier to espouse than embody but perhaps our path to true embodiment requires something else. Biomimicry. As Dayna Baumeister notes in her Biomimicry Resource Handbook: A Seed Bank of Best Practices, “Life creates conditions conducive to life. …Biomimicry ushers in an era based not on what we can extract from nature but what we can learn from nature…this shift…requires a new method of inquiry, a new set of lenses, and above all, a new humility.”

We have heard calls for humility in recent weeks, particularly aimed at those of us who might get tossed in the pot of liberal elites struggling to understand the so-called mythical monolith known as the white working class. Learning to recognize the sound of what we might miss. Joan C. Williams writes in the Harvard Business Review, “I fully understand transgender bathrooms are important, but I also understand why progressives’ obsession with prioritizing cultural issues infuriates many Americans whose chief concerns are economic.”[2]

Economic injustice lies at the heart of much of the world’s travail and its people’s suffering. It seems damn near impossible to dismantle and it’s understandable to focus on other injustices easier to overturn. Without meaning to, we gird ourselves in the issues closest to our hearts and our experience, and sometimes we use those issues to delineate us and them—the ones that get it and the ones who don’t—forgetting that another group who defines us as them is just as sure we are the ones who miss what matters. Meanwhile the more than human world, the upper case Nature to which we belong when we are not warring with it, instructs us in myriad ways if we pause long enough to learn.

The new humility called for when we attune ourselves to biomimicry is the same humility Micah mentions—he doesn’t just tell us to accompany God, but to do so humbly. Another biblical commentator, Terence Fretheim notes, “The world of nature is asked to enter into the dialogue as witnesses of what has happened to the God-Israel relationship.”  Chapter six begins: “Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice.”

Why does God call on Nature to witness? Because of what Nature knows. As Dayna Baumeister reminds us, “Life is the result of 3.85 billion years of evolution, revealing wisdom from which humans can learn and gain inspiration.…We need to learn the ropes from the rest of the natural world—our biological elders.”

So when we contemplate what it means to do justice, we might ask the earth. Like all beings, we inter-are (to borrow Thich Nhat Hanh’s word). We have always relied on elements and other beings in an interconnected web. What’s shifted is our capacity to deplete, dominate and disconnect. The language of dominion dominates our discourse: we manage forests and wildlife, transforming trees that sustain us into commodities while reducing our fellow animals into taxonomies of resources and pests. But beneath all our mineral extraction lies a core of connection, an identity as part of nature not its conquistador. Our biological elders, the mentors of Nature might suggest that doing justice means living right-sized. Interdependency not depletion. Respect not mastery.

When we become the vast cataloguers of other beings, trading the terms of endearment for classifications, we relinquish an intimacy both sustaining and spiritual. While it is impressive and perhaps useful to know the Latin names of species, to develop psycho-social theories to explain voter turnout, we deprive ourselves. As Diane Ackerman writes:

As a species, we’ve somehow survived large and small ice ages, genetic bottlenecks, plagues, world wars and all manner of natural disasters, but I sometimes wonder if we’ll survive our own ingenuity.…we’re living in sensory poverty, learning about the world without experiencing it up close, right here, right now, in all its messy, majestic, riotous detail…watch how a vase full of tulips, whose genes have traveled eons and silk roads, arch their spumoni-colored ruffles and nod gently by an open window.

We overlook the instruction of the desert beetle capturing moisture by climbing dunes and exposing its wings to low hanging fog. Biomimicry invites us to revel at the beauty and wisdom of Nature by reminding us we are part of it.

We come into sentience in utero, beginning our human journey embedded in the body of another who is not other at all. Her blood supply, nutrients, and oxygen are ours. At birth, the severed cord seems to initiate disconnection yet we already know in a way that precedes and surpasses cognition, that all life is rooted in connection; thus we perpetually seek it even as the political and economic realities we construct, deny it.

When we recognize a kindred spirit within kindred being, we uplift ourselves. We engage in tikkun olam, mending the torn fabric of Creation often rent by injustice.

It’s why our ancient agrarian forebears blessed the animals they hunted, the trees they cut, the earth they tilled. It’s why contemporary indigenous people still do. Why the water protectors at Standing Rock will not yield.

Blessing, as the healer and writer Rachel Naomi Remen puts it, occurs in relationship when we recognize and acknowledge each other’s true nature and worth. Consider the phrase, “true nature.” What is true in us is Nature where we live and move and have our being. No wonder so many of us summon Nature to articulate God.

Beholding tulips as they “arch their spumoni-colored ruffles” becomes a spiritual practice, a way to develop the inclination and capacity to notice. Each time we do, we reconnect, we recommit ourselves to do justice because we can only build structures of injustice on the backs of each other when we avert our gaze. Somewhere I read “The most common blasphemy is not to see the human being in the eyes before us.” The blasphemy extends if we refuse to see the beingness in every eye, in every petal.

As Dayna Baumeister notes, “Life on earth is under tremendous stress, and we have an opportunity…to compound that stress or relieve it.…[A] shift in perspective from conqueror to student…is the only force pervasive enough to birth a whole new human condition.”

That shift is how we move humbly with our God, how we do justice, how we pour forth loving kindness and mercy. So often we rely on human responses to solve our problems yet here we are. Riven by conflicts, polarized by politics. Entrenched in chasms of fear as expressions of hate multiply too quickly to extinguish. Perhaps this crucible will get our attention, the “absolute, unmixed attention” Simone Weil identified “as a form of prayer.”

Where we place our attention determines our focus. Consider how often we find solace in nature. Why the UU hymnal includes Wendell Berry’s poem, “The Peace of Wild Things.”

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 

Nature is ours to emulate if we pay attention, observe fastidiously, mimic faithfully. Perhaps then, “when [we] feel so happy, so good, so alive, so in love with the world, with [our] own sensuous, beautiful life,” there will be neither guilt nor despair, for the “grace of the world” will dwell in us. Amen.

[1] https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=794

[2] https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class

A Siddhartha Moment

Listening to Weekend Edition on the way to preach at First Parish Church in Fitchburg this morning, Rachel Martin interviewed a white North Carolinian she had spoken with over the course of the campaign. Though he said he didn’t consider President-elect Trump ideal, he was very pleased with the outcome of the election. Rachel Martin asked several questions and finally inquired whether the man favored a diverse, multicultural country and he quickly replied that he did not. He doubts it could ever work and he fears people coming here who don’t share “American values.” For the rest of the drive, I searched for a flicker of myself in him, since that is my spiritual practice (looking for myself in another, or the us in them).

At first of course, I wanted Rachel Martin to have asked where his ancestors had come from, and then she could have tactfully pointed out that pretty much every immigrant group (including his forebears’) has been met with suspicion, animosity or something in-between upon arrival to our shores; and even if his lineage descends directly from the Mayflower, then she might have said the Native Americans probably weren’t so keen on immigrants either, so how about we just concede Standing Rock and all get back to whatever continent our ancestors came from.

But then I remembered an article that stated the countries with the least violence are fairly homogenous. And then I recalled a clash of cultures I experienced in Ontario when white Canadians were understandably disconcerted by some of the men in the Somali community who felt it was their duty to physically discipline female family members. What felt like a filial obligation to the Somali men constituted domestic violence to the Canadians I knew.

They asserted that the Somali men needed to abide by Canadian values and whether it was their patriarchal culture or their interpretation of Islam, hitting their wives, sisters and daughters was completely unacceptable.

Recollecting those good liberal Canadians who are probably all shaking their heads incredulously at the election of Donald Trump, I thought of the man on the radio and heard an echo. His fear that immigrants will enter his country with completely different values is not unfounded because truthfully, values differ and there are cultures, whether they be rooted in a particular expression of a religion or ethnicity, whose beliefs and practices don’t tidily mesh.

When I visited Israel and met my Israeli-born first cousins, they resented the hell out of Orthodox Jews who stoke the coals of theocracy burning beneath the flames of a modern democracy.  I encountered Ashkenazi Israelis who were quick to disparage the recent wave of Russian immigrants for their coarseness and the Ethiopians with their black skin and unfamiliar ways.

Pluralism is hard; while biodiversity is optimal, it isn’t easy. Perhaps that’s why humans have destroyed a good deal of it. And honestly, I am much more comfortable surrounded by people who know NPR hosts and contemporary African American writers, folks who don’t mount deer heads on the wall or amass automatic weapons. Religious fundamentalism of any stripe unnerves me and I don’t cotton to monster jeeps tearing up the woods.

If Rachel Martin had asked whether I favor a diverse multicultural America, she would have gotten an enthusiastic yes! And if she had pressed me to describe the rich diversity of my acquaintances, I could have happily ticked off my Zambian goddaughter and my exquisite, brilliant Zimbabwean/Zambian cousin by marriage, my Mexican former nun friend (the seventeenth child of nineteen), my formerly Southern Baptist friend in prison and the many men I’ve met volunteering behind bars. I suspect a couple of my friends from childhood voted for Donald Trump, and maybe the neighbor who kindly cut up the tree that fell on my back porch during the ice storm in  2008. So sure, I cope with variations in political temperament but honestly, I don’t interact regularly in any substantive way with folks whose core values or daily practice sharply diverge from my own.

I don’t hang out with people well-armed with anything but wit or humor. If a neighbor plays loud music, I fantasize about calling the police. When the nice folks at the bible conference next door were busy logging at the edge of their property line, even though they had every right legally to do so, I sent two letters politely expressing my discontent. I even included a little biblical passage in favor of protecting trees because the sound of chainsaws rang of death.

The hardest part about hearing that man on the radio this morning was recognizing myself in him. That’s why my first response was to call him out for overlooking how his people immigrated to this country at some point— and who is he to want Donald Trump to build that wall because this is a nation of immigrants, and dammit, preferring homogeneity is downright wrong!

My late father, truly a mensch, spent his last twenty years as an immigration attorney in Texas helping all sorts of folks—Sikhs, Buddhists,  Muslims, Russians, Guatemalans, Vietnamese, shrimpers, business owners, engineers— gain legal entrance to the United States. He was horrified by what his clients had been through in their home countries and often, almost as upset by the obstacles they faced obtaining political asylum. So compassion for migrating peoples comes naturally to me. Until I am asked to live next to folks whose religious rituals or cultural imperatives include slaughtering goats or female genital mutilation.

If we are honest, even those of us who extoll diversity and welcome multiculturalism conjure both within a context of certain shared values and practices. We all have limits to what we wish to encounter in our daily lives.

Today I had lunch with two friends and their delightful twenty-one-year-old son who refers to himself as a Siddhartha, eager to learn from Buddhas everywhere. Before I got in my car this morning, I would not have imagined a Siddhartha moment listening to a guy say Donald Trump will lose all credibility if he doesn’t build that wall—but ironically, the election of Donald Trump summons me to listen more attentively to a North Carolinian whose honesty, no matter how distasteful the content, calls me to recognize a familiarity and a complexity the Buddha might consider a worthwhile koan.

A post-election sermon

 

Tuesday’s election left many of us stunned, some of us distraught and some delighted. Only half the eligible electorate voted. While polls clearly proved incorrect, a CNN poll published in The Guardian newspaper in the UK found[1]

  • White voters, who make up 69% of the total, voted 58% for Trump and 37% for Clinton. Non-white voters, who make up 31% of the electorate, voted 74% for Clinton and 21% for Trump.
  • White men opted 63% for Trump and 31% for Clinton; white women voted 53% for Trump and 43% for Clinton.
  • Among non-college-educated whites, 67% voted for Trump – 72% of men and 62% of women.
  • Among college-educated whites, 45% voted for Clinton – 39% of men and 51% of women (the only white demographic represented in the poll where the former secretary of state came out on top). But 54% of male college graduates voted for Trump, as did 45% of female college graduates.
  • More 18- to 29-year-old whites voted for Trump (48%) than Clinton (43%).
  • Trump, meanwhile, while winning just 8% of the black vote, collected 29% of the Latino vote – two percentage points more than his 2012 predecessor, Mitt Romney.
  • Broken down by income bracket, 52% of voters earning less than $50,000 a year – who make up 36% of the electorate – voted for Clinton, and 41% for Trump.
  • But among the 64% of American voters who earn more than $50,000 a year, 49% chose Trump, and 47% Clinton.

I share these percentages in the context of a sermon to remind us no matter who we voted for, or against, that all the folks who cast their vote in a way we cannot fathom, are speaking to us, of their values and their discontent, their fears, their desire, and their hope. And thus, the outcome invites us to listen more closely to the disaffected and the hopeful, the afflicted and the comfortable—to recognize wherever we are on the political spectrum, Tuesday’s election was clearly a referendum on being heard.

Of the eight percent of African Americans and twenty-nine percent of Latino voters who supported Mr. Trump, I suspect what they heard was not simply the bellicose rhetoric that captured media attention, but something deeper—and it is a depth of listening to which we are called.

The poet David Whyte writes in his lovely book, Consolations,

What we call disappointment may be just the first stage of our emancipation into the next greater pattern of existence. …The great question in disappointment is whether we allow it to bring us to ground, to a firmer sense of our self, a surer sense of our world, and what is good and possible for us in that world, or whether we experience it only as a wound that makes us retreat from further participation. … Disappointment is just the initial meeting with the frontier of an evolving life, an invitation to reality, which we expected to be one particular way and turns out to be another, often something more difficult, more overwhelming, and strangely, in the end, rewarding.

So whether the disappointment relates to the outcome of the election, the divisiveness of the campaign, or the state of the country, the question applies to us all: do we seek a firmer sense of self, what is good and possible? Do we retreat or meet that new frontier? Do we suppose the rancor and racism, xenophobia and American exceptionalism really arose in this campaign or do we reckon with the fact that it’s been there all along, waiting for a large enough platform to amplify it? And thus the bitterness and bigotry that frighten so many of us are preexisting conditions. They dried the ink of convict leases and peonage agreements that kept African Americans enslaved long after the 13th Amendment. They pinch the handcuffed wrists of young men of color; they drape the discarded bodies of black and brown trans-women slain without notice. The visibility of white supremacy may owe a debt to the internet but nary an African American has missed its signs in the last two hundred and forty years. Bitterness and bigotry slough like lead in drainage pipes. Remember dear sisters and brothers, the poisoned waters of Flint happened prior this election. Some of us and most of our parents were alive when Japanese Americans were herded like cattle into internment camps.

The waves of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Irish and Italian immigrants met with an anti-Catholicism as staunch as the Islamophobia that bites us now, attesting to a fear as deep as the water table from which current iterations of hostility and xenophobia spring. The “micks” and “paddy’s,” the “guineas” and “dagos” hurled in the early twentieth century are the precursors of the ethnic slurs we hear now.

We did not awaken to a brave or terrifyingly new world on Wednesday. We crawled up and out and into the same world where millions of Syrians faced yet another day under the murderous reign of Bashar al-Assad. We arose to a night over in North Korea, where more than half its twenty-four million citizens subsist in abject poverty and all suffer under the rule of an erratic despot with nuclear weapons.

When panic threatens to overtake us, if we ground ourselves in the reality that every day, millions, perhaps billions, of people arise into circumstances far more ominous, that the people who manage to reach our country as refugees choose this nation because it remains safer than what they have left, we may gain “a surer sense of our world, what is good and possible for us” in it.

Perspective is useful always, and particularly now. The playwright Paul Zindel offers it in the opening monologue of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds:

He told me to look at my hand for a part of it came from a star that exploded too long ago to imagine. This part of me was formed from a tongue of fire that screamed though the heavens until there was our sun. And this part of me—this tiny part of me—was on the sun when it itself exploded and whirled into a great storm until the planets came to be. And this small part of me was then a whisper of the earth. When there was life perhaps this part of me got lost in a fern that was crushed and covered until it was coal. And then it was a diamond millions of years later—it must have been a diamond as beautiful as the star from which it had first come. Or perhaps this part of me got lost in a terrible beast, or became part of a huge bird that flew above the primeval swamps. And he said this thing was so small—this part of me was so small it couldn’t be seen—but it was there from the beginning of the world.

Each of us contains atoms recycled from the raw ingredients of evolution. We breath recirculated air. The molecules in our lungs, in the oxygenated blood that pumps through our veins, did not originate in us—no, they came from a world so much bigger than any of us, so much greater than this single moment, a flash in the pan of history. We are inextricably bound to all being, even the beings we never glimpse, or the very ones whose lives juxtapose our own. Let us be curious together. Why the hell would they vote that way? is not curiosity; it’s judgment. Curiosity asks: Would you tell me the story of how you came feel the way you do?

We know our stories connect us. It’s why we gravitate to stories, for that sense of connection: to each other, to history, to the “whisper of the earth.” We are born into sentient existence tethered by a literal cord severed at birth. Thus we spend our lives seeking reconnection with that which sustains us. In utero, we did not float in isolation. Our earliest experience of inchoate incarnation is the pulse of our mother’s blood becoming ours. All we know of this world upon birth is connection. We disconnect at our peril. The divisions we create deliver injustice, inequity, economies of exploitation—none of which return us to sources of sustenance.

Look at your hand for a part of it came from a star that exploded too long ago to imagine. In our cells, we carry and are carried by a knowing greater than our propensity for disconnection. We disconnect out of fear: that what we have is not enough, that someone else will take it, that we ourselves are lacking, that our best efforts and noblest intentions will gather the moss of disappointment on our headstone. We fear inconvenience. We fear change. We fear that our constraints will always be the same. That grief is inconsolable and justice, out of reach. We fear the unknown.

And as much as fear drives us apart, constructs an illusion of us and them, we share it just as surely as the molecules we inhale, exhaled by the mighty oak or giant sequoia.

This week I met with a student, a white eighteen-year-old young woman writing a research essay on police brutality. In trying to push her from report to essay, statement to idea, I ask why she cares enough to spend six or seven weeks writing about this topic. “Because it’s wrong. People should not be treated differently, badly, because of their race. We’re the same. It’s not fair.”

Her research reveals a common observation. George Zimmerman says he feared Travon Martin. Police who shoot unarmed black men also express fear that their lives are in danger.

“You and I might sit here and say ‘the fear is irrational when you’re the one holding the gun and the power’ but just because because a person’s fear is irrational doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”

I relate the experience of driving when an animal darts into the road. A rush of adrenalin, rapid heartbeat. The autonomic response of a rational fear of hitting a deer that could cause serious damage to me and the deer. But one day, as a flock of geese fly far overhead casting a shadow across the road, the same accelerated heartbeat and rush of adrenalin occur. The pre-frontal cortex registers that it’s only a shadow, no danger at all, but the amygdala fires off the alert. There’s no arguing with the amygdala.

Quiet for a moment, the student responds. “I went home to Boston recently. I was out walking and passed these African American men. I felt afraid. And I don’t want to. But I was. That makes me sad.”

In class we have studied how the intentional association of criminality and blackness emerged during slavery and Reconstruction, how we reinforce it with every image of another black man in handcuffs, or face down on the police cruiser. It’s hard to avoid molecules of fear that have been in circulation for centuries. But being willing to be honest, to acknowledge the amygdala, and recognize everyone else has one too, creates an opening, an invitation to listen closely to the narratives of fear.

When we realize the fear that separates us, strangely, paradoxically, connects us, we might be wiling to ask, as the great Kentucky poet and farmer Wendell Berry does,

Who has invented our enmity? Who has prescribed us hatred of each other?

Who has armed us against each other with the death of the world?

Who has appointed me such anger that I should desire the burning of your house or the destruction of your children?

Who has appointed such anger to you? Who has set loose the thought

That we should oppose each other with the ruin of forests and rivers,

And the silence of birds?

We lost Leonard Cohen this week but not his words. “There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” May the fissures we feel so intensely offer sufficient illumination so that across the great divide, we can still recognize ourselves in each other. Amen.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/09/white-voters-victory-donald-trump-exit-polls?CMP=share_btn_link