There is nothing harder in this world than to keep a heart open once it has been broken. There are so many things I might say in this moment. The frailties of this planet so present on my landscape. I might confess that my heart is broken in 4 or five ways by things great and small. But I have learned that there is something beautiful that happens if you can withstand the pain …these are rare moments indeed when the blinders used to stave off the realities of the world no longer work. No longer filled with desire, or possibility, but only with what is really and truly there. All of the energy that was once used to stave off fear of the unknown exhausted, the arms are put down. And finally, the rubble of what has been destroyed is what creates the firm ground to stand on. The state of the world has finally landed in a whole new way in my reality.
I feel responsible about how to discuss the state of the mind and heart in this place. Not to vomit it out carelessly and splatter on known and unknown friends.
The way I know to seek solace is to listen for the resonance of elders who have wisdom to share.
I saw Alice Walker and Arundhati Roy last night. At the very end of the talk, Alice blurted out of context an inquiry that landed… that in these trying times when it might appear that we can see our end: “It is a good time to get in touch with what is truly worth valuing.” She also said (in the context of a conversation about caste systems, but seemed to have universal applications), “It is so hard to find and access your essence when you are worrying about what you look like.” (Plz forgive: Neither of those are perfect quotes).
A few days ago at a fundraiser for Canticle Farm I believe it was Joanna Macy who said something to the likes of, “The happiest people ~ and the most exhausted people~ are involved.” That rang true.
But I’m still trying to gather the cookies I lost in the road a few days ago when I fellow community member responded to the situation in Chicago where the Dyke parade refused to allow their Jewish community members carry a flag with the Star of David on it…. He said, he didn’t “feel safe” seeing the Jewish star because of Jewish/Palestine relationship. I couldn’t help but wonder how safe the people felt holding that flag and what they had to go through to be able to stand beneath it. I was shocked to discover how “unsafe” I felt upon discovering that smart people can so easily dismiss a culture’s right to identify themselves because of their own insecurities and lack of inquiry and imagination.
And then last night, while listening to women share their stories and thoughts of activism, I looked up at the ceiling of the theater we were sitting in, and there it was, the Star of David.
And I got why I was so angry.
I registered what I was afraid of.
When we no longer see something for the roots that they are attached to… but only for the moment they are living in…those are dangerous times. Disconnected times.
Let’s take a look (and mind you this is a brief foray into history and only includes a few fun facts) “The Hebrew name for the symbol – a hexagram formed by two overlapping triangles, one pointed upward and the other downward – comes from its supposed resemblance to King David’s shield. However, use of the Star of David as a Jewish symbol only became widespread in 17th-century Europe, when it was used displayed on synagogues to identify them as Jewish places of worship.. In antiquity, the most commonly used symbol of Judaism was the menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum that stood in the Temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E.
The hexagram associated with the Star of David has throughout history been used by other religions as well. In Hinduism, it is referred to as the shatkona, with the upward triangle in the star shape representing Shiva (the masculine side of God) and the downward-pointing triangle representing Shakti (the feminine side of the divinity). The symbol thus generally represents the merging of the male and the female, and, the elements of fire and water, respectively. The Star of David also appears in the architecture of Mormon places of worship, where it symbolizes the union of heaven and earth, with God reaching down to man and man reaching up to God.”
The natural progression of thought led me to think about the Swastika. How I grew up associating it as a symbol for hate. So lo and behold my surprise when I discovered that the origins when I was in college.
“Its name comes the Sanskrit word svasti (sv = well; asti = is), meaning good fortune, luck and well-being. The right-hand swastika is one of the 108 symbols of the Hindu god Vishnu as well as a symbol of the sun and of the Hindu sun god, Surya. The symbol imitates, in the rotation of its arms, the course taken daily by the sun, which appears in the Northern Hemisphere to pass from east, then south, to west. It is also a symbol of the sun among Native Americans.
In Hinduism, the right-hand (clockwise) swastika is a symbol of the sun and the god Vishnu, while the left-hand (counterclockwise, called sauvastika) swastika represents the goddess Kali, night, and magic.
The auspicious symbol of the swastika is very commonly used in Hindu art, architecture and decoration. It can be seen on temples, houses, doorways, clothing, cars, and even cakes. It is usually a major part of the decoration for festivals and special ceremonies like weddings.
In Buddhism, the swastika is almost always clockwise. It signifies auspiciousness and good fortune as well as the Buddha's footprints and the Buddha's heart. The swastika is said to contain the whole mind of the Buddha and can often be found imprinted on the chest, feet or palms of Buddha images. It is also the first of the 65 auspicious symbols on the footprint of the Buddha. The swastika has also often been used to mark the beginning of Buddhist texts. In China and Japan, the Buddhist swastika was seen as a symbol of plurality, eternity, abundance, prosperity and long life.”
Symbols are our oldest form of language on this planet. One of the reasons they are magical is because their meaning is never defined by one thing. Their very existence invokes duality.
So the storyteller and the listener must be complicit to make meaning a reality.
What would happen every time we looked at the American flag, we not only see it as a symbol of colonization and war, but the representation of the dream of what people thought of as possible before they even made it to this continent?
Different people are looking at the same symbol and having a grossly different experiences.
This has been a good quandary. If you made it all the way here, I hope it entertained you as much as it satiated me. Now back to work.
References for the quotes are from: https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007453 & http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/1.574736