My friend, Ali Fadlallah:
You don't know how by your social media share months ago you've shaped me. Somewhere in my core you have really, really shaped me. I mean I suddenly broke. And I break and break again. And it was needed and I didn't even know.
You shared a news clip of a little baby child in Aleppo covered in debris and blood, whose aunt and only surviving family member - also covered in dust and blood - cries and yells in hysterics at octaves much softer than I ever could imagine bellowing myself at the gruesome loss of her own entire family in a bomb - brothers, sisters, children, husband, cousins. I have seen and read many things and I want to imagine myself as an empathic sensitive being - it is what I practice - but what you shared, Ali - it showed me myself.
This little child's eyes, lips, hair, face...looked just. like. mine.
On Sunday mornings lately (now realizing for a few months), I have been consciously leaving my phone at home and find myself walking in Brooklyn - often, now regularly, into the church around the corner. It is not to be identified in religion, or because I'm forced; the Reverend - a refreshingly authentic speaker at a podium in front of hundreds from all races, ethnicities, ages, long-time followers in flowered hats and their Sunday best, new attendees, non-followers - gives me reason to believe and sculpts new insights in me. This Reverend, just to stay aware of what our minds might have been conditioned to imagine, is a She. And she not only offers her words, but she invited her Muslim colleague and scholar to share his in advance of the election with the group. She had Buddhist mindfulness meditation offered. She most recently had her friend, a rabbi, lead a service. I am not going to be surprised when various other sects, cultures, religions - my own of Hinduism - are welcomed and invited to speak and be felt, heard, absorbed, honored.
This Reverend - also happens to be black. And she is likely naturally grounded, but also so very clearly committed to practicing daily, how to be FUCKING awesome. Apologies if the language offends - the word really offers me the utmost positive spiritual release.
The first Sunday of this January upon coming back to NYC from family, teaching New Year's Eve yoga, I thought I was tired, but then came in late to service to receive and set intentions. And boy did I.
Reverend Adrienne Thorne had placed pieces of papers face down around the room. And during her service, she asked those sitting near one of those papers to lift it high to be seen. On each, the name of one of forty countries (more?) that have experienced suffering, political oppression - some current, some within last centuries - to acknowledge, to realize some we've never even heard of, and to know. "Talk to people. Commit to even just one. Read," she urged. We brought to mind people we may have never met and honored their pain. We offered our silent and collective good will through her prayer.
And there in my mind, Ali, did I see the face of the little one you posted - covered in fresh grey dust, wanting to cry or speak to healthcare workers but sitting with puckered lips, big brown-black eyes like mine were as a child, wide and in shock, silent having just lost mother, father, sisters, brothers, family, home. I didn't know I would, but like vomit I began to sob. Heaving, heaving, HEAVING sobs. Heaving, heaving, heaving. For the little one. Who could be me. Who could be mine. Who IS me. Who IS MINE. Who IS OURS. I am sorry for your pain, Little One, and I am committed to do whatever I can, in whatever capacity I can, whenever I can to make sure that you are going to be ok.
My friend, Ali Fadlallah: I thank you. Sometimes I want to turn off the Facebook feed. And sometimes I want to fold up the paper, shut off the radio, and turn off my phone to escape. Goodness knows I do these things Sunday mornings. But I understand why I do it now. Not to flee. But to reflect in wholeness, and to restore to continue with full heart, strongly, fully forward for the little one in Aleppo, and for the little ones in us All.