My heart feels like it almost can’t take it at times like this. Everything from, what I feel like is, an injustice… all reactions to it… and the vitriolic disagreements from different belief camps that follow in the turbulent wake.
I feel irresponsible sometimes because I tend not to stay in the thick of it because it feels like it could pull me under.
I wrote that last night after hearing about the not guilty verdict given George Zimmerman in response to his shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. As I read reactions on Facebook to the verdict, almost all of people in my news feed were shocked and deeply saddened. The diversity of my Facebook friends and acquaintances must be somewhat narrow (at least in this regard) — as I saw almost no one who found justice in the verdict. But there were one or two.
And then there was the arguing back and forth about whether the verdict was wrong or right.
My life’s intention is to have full faith in love, see love and work for and toward love. Each day, I expend my energy to find what works, where love is to be found and how I can nurture love to grow deeper roots and more abundant, rich fruit. I don’t want to put on rose-colored glasses. I don’t want to deceive myself about this world that we live in or live in denial about the way things are. And that said, the waves of emotion, pain, and despair that rolled over me last night and into this morning are unbearable. What I want to do is not click on the articles, social media threads or opinion essays. I don’t want to hurt any more.
However. And it is a very big, show-stopping however. I don’t believe the avoidance of hurting furthers my commitment to love. This where my pain is tempted to pivot to despair. How do I love and BE love in this situation? How do I make a difference in seeing our world turn toward love? The sheer scale of this particular gash in our shared humanity is larger than George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. It bleeds fresh today, this old wound with an ugly scar. It has been cut open again.
I’m a healer. Healers sometimes make the well-intentioned but a misdirected attempt at only fixing and stop short of healing. The two acts are nearly identical, but not quite. The origins of the word heal is ‘to make whole‘. The origins of the word fix is ‘to fasten‘. Sometimes fixing is a temporary balm and may be needed on the way to healing. For example, I broke my arm when I was in grade school. I was thrown off the back of a young, wild Mustang named Blue. I shouldn’t have been riding him, but I didn’t know that. The result was my arm broke in 4 places. My grandfather took me to the hospital and the doctors put a cast on it. They fixed it. But did they heal it? No. A cast fixes a broken arm… but it doesn’t heal it. The healing that happens, it happens within.
There is some fixing that needs to happen. There are laws that must be either thrown out or corrected. Important protections must put in place. Education and awareness must become a priority. All this fixes need to happen now!
But healing? How does that begin? I’m not surprised that the first place my mind went when thinking about this was Martin Luther King, Jr. Written while in jail for committing nonviolent civil disobedience during the Montgomery bus boycott, he said:
First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one’s enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us. It is also necessary to realize that the forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of some great hurt, the recipient of some tortuous injustice, the absorber of some terrible act of oppression.
Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words “I will forgive you, but I’ll never forget what you’ve done” never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship. Likewise, we can never say, “I will forgive you, but I won’t have anything further to do with you.” Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again.”
Reconciliation, a coming together again… that’s what happened inside me to my broken bones. It couldn’t have happened without the fixing that the doctors did. I’m grateful that they did the fixing they did – it was imperative that they did that work. There are already many, many people beginning and doing that fixing work in the world. And we MUST fix this. Unfortunately, fixing doesn’t bring about change, harmony, equality and love. It does build the supportive and necessary context for it to happen, but it does not create those qualities. And because it doesn’t, we cannot stop there. We need to heal. We must heal both our own pain and be there, as a part of our community, to love and help others heal too. This is internal work – work that is, at once, both intensely personal and profoundly corporate.
I will roll up my sleeves and do what I can to help fix this. I am doing the internal work of forgiving to begin the miracle of healing. (Forgiving means far more than just forgiving George Zimmerman… it includes our country’s history of these injustices, the culture that has allowed it to happen, myself for being tempted to turn away from the pain and so on.) In doing so, I am returning myself to wholeness and become a part of the transformational power of healing for everyone.