Wallowing In It


[Peace Cranes in the Trash; Cambridge, MA, July, 2016]

When I was younger, I believed my activism to be fueled by (righteous) anger. Racism, injustice, violence infuriated me; seething, I did stuff. I showed up, grateful for my rage. My anger kept me going.

Unlike many of my fellow Quakers, I’d grown up in a family where it was okay to be angry. Sadness, however, was stronger discouraged. “Don’t wallow in it,” I was repeatedly scolded when brought low. At an early age I learned how to efficiently acknowledge my sorrow and move on.

Implicit in this childhood training was fear: if you stay in that sadness you will get stuck in it. (For me, the word ‘wallow” conjures mud or some other thick, viscous substance.) Be careful.

Friday night, in a called meeting for worship at Beacon Hill Friends Meeting around the violence and horror of last week, surrounded by like-minded people, I let myself stay in my grief. I felt safe to wallow. And realized—not for the first time— that sadness opens up an unlimited source of guidance and compassion within me.  I reconnect with interconnectedness. I pray for victims’ families and friends and loved ones. I stay with, I hold their pain. I pray for my brothers and sisters of color. I pray for our earnest young people who have inherited this broken, far-from-enlightened world. I begin (ain’t there, yet) to consider the perpetrators of violence and hatred with sadness; as fellow wallowers in this broken world, just as trapped, just as stuck, just as dehumanized by oppression and greed and selfishness as their victims.

So, this week, the words of Bayard Rustin are really speaking to me:

Loving your enemy is manifest in putting your arms not around the man but around the social situation, to take power from those who misuse it at which point they can become human too.





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  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia, my so, so very For Always dearly special and For Always dearly precious sisterfriend of mine who you’re For Always so, so very much!!!!!! Wow, sister, wow, wow, wow and wow and wow and a zillion wows here!!!!!!! Sister, I thank-you, thank-you, thank-you so, so very much, so, so very profusely, kindly, dearly, and deeply for this beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, very empowering blog post article which just went straight to this black woman’s very, very heart, Patricia! With this very powerful blog post article you have as you For Always done shown your very love for me as your black sisterfriend, and your great love for your other black and other nonwhite sisters and brothers with your deeply sincere, undaunted, and very steadfast commitment to each and every one of us, and for the great cause toward social and racial justice, equity, and fairness, Patricia!!!!!! Yay for YOU, Patricia!!!!!! Yay!!!!!! Yay for this awesome blog post article here!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!! Sister, the title of this very fine and excellent blog post article is just perfect here and adds to and complements the very theme and topic of this very stupendous straight from your very, very heart and spirit blog post article, Patricia! The lovely picture which you have featured here is just perfect, just absolutely perfect! The peace cranes are just so pretty, beautiful, and lovely that I wish somehow that someone could have saved and kept them. I’d love to have so, so very colorful peace cranes like that-maybe I can get them at an event, rally, and protest here in my Iowa City, Iowa! Thank-you so, so much, my precious friend and sister, for the very powerful and informative links which you have very graciously and generously included with this absolutely amazing blog post article, Patricia!!!!!! You went straight to this lesbian black woman’s very, very heart, and very, very heart and spirit with this link regarding the Civil Rights and LGBTQQIA icon, Bayard Rustin, sister!!!!!! I thank-you as well, sister, for this marvelous quote you have included from our astounding Bayard Rustin!!!!!!! Thank-you so, sister for this link, but also for the other one about Beacon Hill Friends Meeting which is greatly informative and interesting, too!!!!!! Wow, you For Always provide such great info with fascinating info with the magnificent links you include with your brilliant articles, Patricia!

    Patricia, I so appreciate how you were fueled by righteous anger when you were younger in your very empowering activism against racism, injustice, and violence, and the rage burning in your very, very heart, and very, very heart and spirit toward fighting injustices and oppressions of all kinds which has continued throughout your greatly lived life to the present and which I know will continue from you my and our wondrously wonderful white anti-racist(and anti-all oppressions)white woman who you’re For Always so, so very much as an awesome ally, activist, and advocate in the very spirit and solidarity!!!!!! Sister, I grew up in a family where anger was very unsafe towards me, violent, and abusive. I was often silenced and not allowed to feel and express righteous anger. Also, sadness was very much frowned upon in my family of origin, and I was often humiliated and abused over my sadness, sisterfriend. I so appreciate you great sharing on how you learned that it was okay to be angry in your family of origin, but how being sad was not condoned and was discouraged greatly, sister. I can for sure relate, my so, so very dearest and darling friend! I, too, like you, my so, so very dearest and darling sister, Patricia, am learning to let myself stay in my grief, to feel safe to wallow, and seeing how my sadness can open up an unlimited and refreshing source of guidance and compassion for me!!!!!!!! Sister, I, like you, and reconnecting to my interconnectedness as I aim to be a prayer warrior praying without seeing for YOU, my precious sister, and for all other remarkable persons, Patricia, very frequently and daily, and for our so, so very special, blessed, and precious country, society, and world!!!!!!! Wow, what a blessedly inspiring experience which you had at Beacon Hill Friends Meeting with your uplifting visit there, sister. I so, so very much love you and cherish you, Patricia, and just so, so very much appreciate and cherish how you constantly pray for and think of me and other persons of color, and how you very actively send positive energy to me and to all of us as nonwhite people!!!!!!! I am also like you praying so much and so hard for our young persons and with this great mess which they are inheriting here, sister!!!!!! Patricia, YOU just mean so, so very much to me as my and our wondrously wonderful white anti-racist(and anti-other forms of oppression) unwavering ally, activist, and advocate in the very spirit and solidarity, and it is wondrously wonderful white women like YOU, Patricia, who keep this lesbian black woman who is indigent and disabled just keep on keeping on with my For Always faith, expectancy of such faith and hope with my For Always positive optimism, and YOU, sisterfriend of mine, keep my very faith and hope For Always alive!!!!!!! Thank-you so For Always, Patricia!!!!!! I so, so very much For Always APPRECIATE YOU, Patricia!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!

    Sister, please have such a totally terrific and a very thrilling Tuesday, a wondrously wonderful rest of your week and weekend coming ahead, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!!! Patricia, you are just so, so very cool, and the very, very epitome of such very overall awesomeness!!!!! Spirit loves you very much, and so do I, Patricia!!!!!! Yay for YOU, Patricia!!!!!! Yay for us and our sisterhood and friendship!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my so, so very For Always sisterfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you’re For Always so, so very much, Patricia, with Such Peace and Love To You For Always, my friend, and with Such Very Blessings and Even More Very Blessings to you For Always, my sister,

    Your sisterfriend Christian black woman For Always and For Always in the very spirit and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa

  2. Thank you for sharing. I’m living in Dallas Texas, and over the past few days the Dallas Police Dept. have been given good food to homeless people standing in front of the Shelters. Similar to your family, it was okay in my family to be angry (at the Police). Black Lives Matters, Police Lives Matters, Homeless People Lives Matters, Quakers Lives Matters, All Lives Matters. Thank you for letting me share.

    A Honorary Quaker.

  3. Interesting! and full of insight!
    In my family, I think sadness was seen as evidence of anger (toward the parents, who felt guilty about their own anger and sadness), and anger (toward the parents) was not permissible. (As a teenager, I would stretch my mouth when I went downstairs to dinner, so it would be easier to smile; I don’t think that worked.) When my insides are in turmoil, I often can’t tell whether I’m angry or sad or angry-sad or sad-angry; I have to look at my recent experiences to see what could have caused the upset, and then deduce what I’m probably feeling. I like the idea of overcoming my body’s messages of “Danger!” so I can “reconnect with interconnectedness;” I’ll see if I can do that to any extent.

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