There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
out of which blooms the unshatterable.
There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.
There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.
There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.
I may have broken open to the place inside which is unbreakable….while learning to sing.
The song I am learning to sing is a song of promises. Of strength and courage. Of hope.
There is a poem circulating written by Caitlin Rosberg that has become the song I am singing.
If you wear a hijab, I’ll sit with you on the train.
If you’re trans, I’ll go to the bathroom with you.
If you’re a person of color, I’ll stand with you if the cops stop you.
If you’re a person with disabilities, I’ll hand you my megaphone.
If you’re an immigrant, I’ll help find you resources.
If you’re a survivor, I’ll believe you.
If you’re a refugee, I’ll make sure you’re welcome.
If you’re a veteran, I’ll take up your fight.
If you’re LGBTQ, I won’t let anyone tell you you’re broken.
If you’re a woman, I’ll make sure you get home okay.
If you’re tired, me too.
If you need a hug I’ve got an infinite supply.
If you need me, I’ll be with you. All I ask is that you be with me too.
I would add, if you are a child, I will protect you.
I live in a liberal small city that is home to a university and a college. There are a lot of “educated” people around here. Lots of ideas and thoughts of all kinds. It is a bubble. We have our share of people struggling and in pain. And we do not always do right by them in terms of seeing them let alone helping them.
I teach preschool. It is a Montessori school and I incorporate and teach a “Peace Curriculum”. Yes, these are young children, still working through discovering social skills, emotions and people. I have small goals. In terms of expressing themselves I guide them to use a full sentence. Instead of yelling “STOP”, I ask them to use their strong voice in a sentence, “STOP taking my things/hitting me.” Really, the other child may not have any idea why their friend is yelling “stop”. By hearing a sentence they have a better chance at understanding. The other big part is if they see someone crying, sad, hurt, sitting alone, they are go to them and “check in”. Certainly if they are the reason someone is crying, stop and check in. It’s difficult. It requires a great deal of awareness and sensitivity to others that takes a long time to develop. But they are learning. And what they are learning is to be observant of others and to care. To offer kindness and compassion. Two little friends fell on top of each other a few days ago. One jumped up, “Are you okay?” “Yes, I am okay! Are you okay?” came the response. “Yes! We are both okay!” they cheered, jumping up and down. And that is part of what I struggle with in the adult world right now. Who are the people that we do not care about enough to ask if they are “Okay”? Who are the people we make invisible and/or turn and walk away from? Who are the people we care so little or nothing about that we will allow them to be oppressed, persecuted, attacked, beaten, threatened and hated? Who are the people whose lives and families we are willing to destroy? I am not naive. I know there are “bad” people out there. I am talking about clumping groups of people together and deeming them “bad”. I am talking about wrapping them in hate.
In my town, I doubt the statement of wearing a safety pin will ever be called to into service. I wear it to make a global statement. I am a safe person. I am not filled with hate or fear.
I am trying so hard to understand what has happened in this country. It is not about politics. It is about privilege and hate, power and intimidation, fear and selfishness. I don’t know how to turn things around right now, but I am not going to be quiet or still.
I am going to live by Caitlin Rosberg’s words. And I am going to sing and call forth what is unbreakable and whole as in Rashani Réa’s poem.
And while I am singing I am going to volunteer for and contribute financially to groups and organizations who hold all people in compassion and respect and work to uplift and protect people who are marginalized, oppressed, threatened, disenfranchised, forgotten and unseen. I will march and protest because our country was born from protest and it is an honored and valuable privilege we have in this country. If you are a woman, your right to vote came from protest. Most of us benefit from changes brought from protest. From the shatteredness I will forge the unshatterable. Strength will emerge. Permission has been granted and I have been sanctioned into being.
Check out what I’ve been reading this week, there’s quite a bit: This Week