Dear President Trump,
Last night our minister’s Christmas Eve meditation was entitled “Discomfort and Joy.” I wish you could have heard it; it was really beautiful and the message is one I think many of us desperately need to hear and abide. The main point is that having to contend with discomfort makes space for empathy, which in turn facilitates connection and care. No life is entirely without discomfort so all of us have the opportunity to use our knowledge of it to get a glimpse into someone else’s discomfort and perhaps let them know they aren’t alone. She reminded us, though, that most of us are so inclined to run away from discomfort that we fail to register our own let alone anyone else’s and thus miss countless opportunities to be validated and to validate. So, she invited us to reconsider our individual relationships to discomfort and challenged us to stick with our whole selves and with one another all through the squirmy, sad, serious, shitty times (she said it better and without swear words).
I also wish you could have been a fly on the wall this afternoon when I got to meet someone who embodies discomfort and joy. We went downtown to get some lunch and at the end of the meal I needed to go to the restroom. In there was a young woman who was clearly homeless. Her backpack was on the floor and she was washing at one of the sinks. She looked up and said “hi” and smiled brightly. I was a little taken aback because her smile was very real; I could see it in her eyes. She was hard to look at, though. Her face was covered in scrapes and sores and her hair looked as though it hadn’t been washed in a couple of weeks. I went ahead and went to the bathroom and when I came out, I tried to wash my hands at the other sink but the water wouldn’t come on. She moved to the side and said, “here, use this one; that one hasn’t been working for awhile.” I did and then as I dried my hands wishing I had something to give her, she wished me a Merry Christmas. I wanted to hug her. I wished her a Merry Christmas back and asked her to take care. She held my gaze as she nodded and told me to do the same. Her ability to see and be seen is something I hope I remember for a very long time. It was a gift to be in her presence. I really wish you could have seen her and experienced her dignity and grace and maybe risked some connection and care.
May we be safe to connect and care.
May we make space for joy.
May we use our experiences of discomfort to empathize with one another.
May we make peace with both discomfort and with joy.