This blog features reflections on current affairs through the lens of my Quaker faith and practice and offers not only analysis but a perspective on hope, renewal, and reconciliation - a “lift”, as I call it - during these stressful, chaotic times.
I hope that you will use the Comments feature to participate with me and with each other. I believe it will be enriching to us all.
Here are some edits I would like to make:
Whidbey Island is particularly vulnerable to wind storms - exposed coastline, tall trees and, when the branches cross the power lines, the likelihood of a power outage. As I watch our trees twist and sway in the various gusts they must endure, I often wonder what that must “feel” like to them - exhilarating? frightening? (especially when they loose a limb or a beloved neighboring tree topples over), or do they just experience a calm assurance that, for the most part, they are designed to withstand the threats of wind and storms and their resilience will see them through? In any case, as we watch trees struggle, all we humans are able to do is passively observe the trees with awe, take in the whole drama, ready our generators, and hope for the best. The power of the wind, after all, is out of our control.
I thought of the distress of our trees during the storm here compared to the political windstorm that we also endured this past week. Gust after mighty gust of dangerous threats seemed to assault us one after another: a disheartening State of the Union address, an unjust acquittal, the gloating, and the destructive uprooting of both respectful protocol and personal vindictiveness. The whole tragic fiasco resulted in a truly memorable political windstorm indeed! And at the same time this week we learned our nation is dealing with the insecurity of the unstable Democratic party’s primary process. In addition climate scientists report a record 65 degree temperature in the Antarctica and a new projection of accelerated increase in ice melt. Whoa!
But I’m not so much interested in a political commentary here as I am to try to establish an emotional context for assessing what I/we are experiencing. I have felt my spirits dropping with each turn of events, and so I have tried to limit how much I can process and how much news I just need to let go by, at least for the time being. To complicate my psyche, an old habit keeps telling me I personally must do something to try to “fix” things. But like observing the full force of a windstorm, there’s not much I seem able to do at this time but stoke up the “emergency generators” of resiliency and patient waiting. Not a very comforting position, but it will need to be enough until the next election at least.
But then I think of the trees when they, too, get whipped around and assaulted by powers out of their control. I want to believe that I, too, like the trees, have some deep roots of faith and an intrinsic resilience in my “branches” in the resources of my personal experience, wisdom, imagination, and courage, and I am consoled and heartened by a wide, visionary, faithful community in my own life and across the globe committed to nonviolence and supporting the life-giving “forces more powerful" I trust will weather the storm with me. I have read recently that groves of trees actually care for one another during times of stress, and I find that such a beautiful and reassuring image. I know, of course, that it applies to humans as well.
So may we all continue to draw inspiration from the trees and mind our deep roots, protect and nurture our resilient branches, and ally with others in our community for protection, healing, and the ability to draw on our intrinsic capacity to nonviolently face the grave and dangerous storm before us. And may we find the courage and commitment to choose life even as we acknowledge we face a very challenging time.
P.S. The nighttime power outage this week was mercifully short, just enough time to appreciate how much I depend on electricity and so easily take it for granted. I was grateful for those with the advance planning and technical capacity to weather the storm and make the necessary repairs. Wouldn’t it be great if had a similar capacity to address our planetary problems!