Breathing out and breathing in

Dear President Trump,

I’m afraid I don’t have much for you tonight, but I’ll give you what I’ve got.

It’s raining again (we’re at 131% of normal thus far for 2020) and the forecast is for more and more and more rain this week. Lately it’s been sounding like there’s a creek under our house as the sump pump (thankfully) burbles away. But rain within these bounds is just rain and even though our weather patterns do seem to be following suit with the rest of the world as far as global warming-related changes, I know so far we’ve been fortunate.

Still, though, the rainy night adds to the melancholy feeling I’ve got in the wake of Koby and Gigi Bryants’ deaths along with those of the other people who were traveling with them. It just adds to the weary disgust I feel in the wake of your Attorney General’s abuse of NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly and the certainty that Pompeo won’t miss a beat, that it’ll actually elevate him in the eyes of your base. And it adds to the dread that the leak of Bolton’s book manuscript demonstrating that you were squarely, irrefutably in the middle of the effort to manipulate and extort Ukraine to do your personal, political bidding will be just another pesky fly that the GOP Senators will flick away.

It all feels heavy and too much and yet this is just the thinnest scrape off the tip of the iceberg that is current, as in right this minute, human suffering.

And here we are, smack in it, practically drowning in it.

The Contemporary Voice in service today was a passage by Tich Nhat Hanh. I’ve told you about him before, but I’ll remind you that he’s a very wise Buddhist monk who embodies love in ways few do. The passage is about the practice of emptying oneself to make room for life, of letting go of notions and ideas and attachments, of breathing all the way out so that there’s space to breathe fresh air in.

Early on during the service I spotted the passage, read it through to myself, and decided I’d volunteer to read when the time came since it felt like a balm that I needed to experience and share directly. And then I remembered that the woman who was sitting next to me is in recovery and finds AA and the Serenity Prayer extremely helpful so I whisper-asked her if she wanted to read it with me. She said yes and so when our pastor asked, as she does every week, “Is there one who will read for us?” we raised our hands. Since we were sitting in the front row we couldn’t see that someone else had stood up immediately. Our pastor could see that my friend and I had wanted to read it together and so she invited all three of us up to share in the reading. And it was perfect. We each read a paragraph and we all got to let go of some notions about how these things need to go.

May we be safe in our travels and in our encounters.
May we be happy to set aside notions.
May we take care of our health with breaths out and breaths in.
May we hold on to the possibility of peace.

Tracy Simpson

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