It’s 55°F outside and windy on the wild west coast where I sit in my flip-flops and parka, wrapped in the blanket I stole from the beach house, and write and write – by hand because I spilled coffee on my laptop AGAIN – and listen to the waves crash relentlessly, endlessly, while the sun and clouds fight for control of the sky.
I’m deliciously warm except for my nose and ears and fingertips and toes, which are ice, and I’m outside alone except for the teenager chasing her rainbow kite down the shore because it escaped her grasp and made the dash for freedom.
It would be more practical to sit inside where the temperature is controlled and the wind wouldn’t play with my paper and my hair. Surely I would be more practical there, too. And more productive. But my soul is one of the Wild Things and makes decisions sometimes for my body – when I listen – and She couldn’t sit inside today where She felt trapped by walls and ceiling. No, She longed to be set free today, so I’m taking Her where She wants to go and letting Her use my pen, which is always risky because my soul loves Jesus to the moon, and loves people, and says fuck a lot, so I never quite know where She’ll take us, my pen and I, if I give her free rein, but I am always interested to find out, and I’m more and more willing to let Her lead to these days. She loves well when I let her. Even me.
I woke up Sunday morning with Things to Do. Graduation Things for my high school senior. Packing Things for the retreats I’m running this week. One thousand things to finish by noon, and boxes and bags to throw in my fancy blue Pontiac with the cloth seats so I could book it for the coast where I hoped I’d beat my retreat guests, scheduled to arrive simultaneously with me. I had, in other words, Things to Do and no time to Be.
Then I read Sunday morning’s news.
Biggest Mass Shooting in U.S. History.
The To Do’s faded away. My Soul sat us down. We bowed our heads and prayed:
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
We continued for quite some time. Days now, actually, the only variations, “Oh, Jesus, no,” and all the Goddamnits.
I thought maybe we should say something out loud, but the Soul said it wasn’t time for us yet, and Practical Me agreed that writing ALL the Goddamnits would take more time than we had at hand.
“AND,” Soul said…, “AND remember how we’re learning to not always tell others’ stories FOR them, Beth? Remember how we’re learning to tell stories WITH them?”
She’s right, of course. We are trying to learn this, my Soul and I. Trying hard to use our words to champion the vulnerable and marginalized, like our LGBTQ neighbors and friends, without speaking FOR them and rob their voices and co-opt their perspectives. Trying to learn to be good allies and friends. Trying to grieve our collective tragedies and losses while recognizing the particular and profound grief and suffering the targets of these attacks – the LGBT community – experience.
So I sat at the coast with new and old friends, in the wind and watching waves, and I scrolled through Facebook, where my friend, Geoff, who is a humanitarian at heart and by trade, who is a musician, who is kind and tall and handsome and gay and brave and a survivor, wrote this:
“Despite my sadness, I have great hope today, because at last night’s vigil I witnessed, once again, the community come together and show that, in responding to hate, our weapon of choice is more love. We greet with open hands those whose fists clench against us, we sing and joke and cheer when some would silence us, we assemble with lights and flags of all colours when some want us to disappear. The more we are persecuted the more deeply and widely our love spreads: for one another, our neighbors, and even our enemies. We say, You are invited to this party, too; there’s room here under our rainbow. We will not let you stereotype and demonize another minority in our name, either. And this is why, though we suffered terrible losses, we are winning.”
“Can I quote you?” I asked Geoff.
“Of course,” he wrote, “if you wish, though I wrote those words with more hope than certainty.”
More hope than certainty.
More hope than certainty.
I love this. ^^^
Imagine a world with more hope than certainty.
More hope in love as a weapon than the certainty that our neighbors are evil.
More hope that we can find each other in the darkness than certainty we are two divided.
More hope in inclusion and invitations to dance and celebrate together than the certainty that the “other” is out to get us.
Yes. More hope than certainty. This is how I write, too, Geoff – with more hope than certainty. And how I live. And how I breathe. And how I love.
With more hope than certainty.
Always and forever.
This is, after all, what it means to be compassionately human and to live on after tragedies; to keep seeking change, and to act as if Love really does win in the end.
I keep seeing that rainbow kite tumbling down the beach. Free.