Friday, November 07, 2008

Why This Goes So Deep

marigolds and cathedral
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

We are birthed into sangha, into sacred community. It is called the world.

Yesterday, a friend in Mexico sent me this quote regarding the election:
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the Hawaii Legislature in 1959, two years before Mr. Obama was born in Honolulu, and declared that the civil rights movement aimed not just to free blacks but "to free the soul of America."

My friend also sent this picture from her neighborhood in Mexico.
It reminds me of other words of Dr King regarding visions of the Promised Land,
and, much to my chagrin, it reminds me of Ronald Reagan’s “Shining City on the hill.”

Actually, this is a Catholic edifice built by the Spanish on top of an Aztec structure, the world’s largest pyramid.
I deliberately divert my attention from the subjugation of the Spanish act.
I choose instead to focus on these words of Isaac Newton:
If I have seen farther than most men, it’s because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.

Words. Visions. Souls and politics. We are in this all together.
For days now, I have been trying to articulate what has touched me so deeply about Barack Obama’s election. For me, it’s hasn’t really felt about race and civil rights.

"I’m white. I can’t really get what this means to African Americans. All I know is that deep inside my heart and belly, something has grabbed a hold of them. Something huge has been stirred. There’s joy and tears and I cannot find the words. But, is has to do with Goodness."
This is what I told a black friend, a Dutch citizen, on the morning after.

My friend’s eyes blazed. “Pat, that’s exactly how I feel!”
She too couldn’t really attribute the depth of her feelings to issues about race.
Only later, after she heard from overseas relatives would she come to me and say,
“Pat, in Holland, they call you nigger right to your face.”

Yes, huge issues regarding race are being addressed. There is that level. But, even my black friends feel there's something deeper going on. Something else eludes my understanding.

A day later, I still hadn’t found the words.
But, I had recognized that the stirrings deep inside is exactly what I feel when I truly hunger for the Divine.
There is joy because I can intuit what is possible.
There is heartbreak because I know I am not there.
And all the hope and joy and heartbreak exist beyond all words,
exist beyond all superficiality.

How very strange.
Why should an election feel the same as hunger for the Divine?
Then, I recalled the first time Obama made me cry.
It was his 2004 speech to the Democratic Convention.
I cried as he made me recall the Goodness of our nation’s ideals.
I cried as he recalled in me my sense of separation from our Goodness.
I cried as he stirred up the vision, the hope, that as a country we might one day live up to our potential.

Then, on the drive in to work this morning there was an old Jim Croce song on the radio:
Like the pine trees lining the winding road
I’ve got a name …
Like the singing bird and the croaking toad
I’ve got a name…
And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I’m living the dream that he kept hid

I hadn’t heard the song in years.
It conjures images of idealistic college days and little kids marched on stage to sing for parents swelled with pride.
It seems a song about potential.
But, today I noticed that it also sings “living the dream that he kept hid.”

That’s it.

There is a dream, a hope, a profound hunger, at the core of each and every human being.
And, we keep it hidden.
Our deepest dream is far too precious, too heartbreakingly beloved, to risk revealing consciously even to ourselves, let alone admitting it aloud to the World.

It is our hope of one day reuniting with our own Divinity.
We not only keep it hidden, usually, we down right deny it.

We aim for something much more superficial, something more obvious and of the World.
We become under-achievers and over-achievers, drug addicts and CEOs.
We become smart and suave and cynical.

We revel as our children sing in innocence,
yet we hide our hearts in unconsciousness.
We become Adults: conservatives, liberals and libertarians, black and white and multi-racial.

We tie ourselves into knots.
We divide against ourselves as we live separate from our true Self.

Then this skinny, young, black guy comes out of nowhere
and has the audacity to offer us Hope!
And guess what…The American people stood up and shouted, “Yes, we can!”

Last night as I mulled this over more words came to mind.
They are the words with which Thomas Jefferson concludes the Declaration of Independence:

… with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Yes, Dr. King was right.
This is a matter regarding our souls.
And that is why my heart is breaking and my tears are those of joy,
And why the election was indeed about Hope.


Beth said...

You're so right, it IS extremely hard to articulate.

I think we've been saying "No" so long, so very long. And someone has given us permission to say the "yes!" that's in our hearts.

But it's not so much about the country and America's potential, or at least I don't want it to stop there. What Obama has excited is the world's great desire to say yes to their best nature, which is that kernel of gold inside each of us that Thomas Merton talks about. I think you have pinpointed it exactly.

Pat Bralley said...

Thank you.

I'm not even going to attempt a sage reply.

Simply, thank you.