The last week has been emotionally brutal for me. You may imagine that by this statement something painful or terrible has occurred in my life, but this is not the case. Instead, the turmoil I’ve experienced is from tuning into the world more closely, reading many stories – in the news and in other various sources, and being critically aware of the inequities and violence I see around me. After the Manchester bombing and the violent stabbings that occurred in Portland, Oregon on the MAX transit system, I felt my soul sink deep into a small, dark space.
The darkness incubated as my joy withdrew. I felt numb and closed in. As a mom and wife I could not retreat physically. I had to remain present even though, inside, my heart was screaming. I had to manage getting up in the morning and being there, as best I could, for my family. Luckily, their love and acceptance of me remained steady as I struggled with different emotions ranging from disbelief to anger to sadness to an unwilling acceptance.
I spent a great amount of time reflecting on the stabbing and thinking about what I would do if confronted by a similar situation. Would I have had the courage to stand up against pure hatred? Would I have placed my body between the perpetrator and those who were being attacked?
What does it mean to confront or face violence? How do we prepare ourselves to act in its presence?
I believe we need to have greater imagination in the ways we not only resist and confront violence, but also in the ways we reconceptualize the reality we want to experience. If we detest the ways people have been marginalized, hurt, violated, and oppressed, then we must go out of our way to show MORE LOVE – consciously, powerfully, and forcefully. I am not saying that we should not feel anger toward those who inflict hateful, brutal acts on others, but we should not allow this anger to fill up our hearts. We should transmute (the conscious act of converting one energy form to another) anger to a higher, more constructive energy. We should not give into energies that fuel more chaos, violence, and hatred. When we ignite only anger, we feed systems that depend on our individualized and collective separation, isolation, and marginalization. If we are focused on hate, then we are also blind to the possibilities of transmutation, reconciliation, and healing for ourselves and one another.
In this vein, in a somewhat impromptu manner, I decided to introduce an activity centered on healing and bringing peace into the world to the undergraduate and graduate students taking a special education course on “Collaboration and Consultation.” I introduced Healing cards that students used to reflect upon the past week’s violent events. Through these reflections, they consciously transmuted violence (on a spiritual level) into peaceful and loving intention.
The following video is an excerpt from class. In the video, an explanation of how the cards can be used is explained and demonstrated. The Healing cards link will provide you with information about the artist, Pat Berberich, who created the cards as well as students’ reflective writings on the cards they chose.
With love and healing,
Here are some examples of Pat Berberich’s healing cards and students’ responses of peaceful loving intention to counteract violence and aggression. For more examples click on the “healing cards” link above which will lead you to other students’ reflective work.
The winds tearing up the roots of trees like the words spilling from your mouth tear up the roots of my heart.
Of my peace.
Of my calm.
Do you even know?
Do the words you spew forth leave you just as bitter as they taste when I say them to myself again later?
Or to you are they just empty threats?
Empty phrases spilling over from your own uprooted heart.
Just a continuing storm-front you’re passing on so someone else feels your pain.
Your terror at being so small they don’t see you
So you make sure everyone else is even smaller.
Step into the eye of the storm.
Embrace the calm, if only for a moment.
We see you.
I see you.
Tearing everyone and everything apart just so no one else can break it isn’t saving you.
Now you don’t have it either.
Your pain is real.
Your fear… it’s valid.
But you have to feel it to let it help you grow.
And in your growing, I promise it will shrink.
Let the love you so desperately crave show itself.
You ache for love so much it’s made you hate.
You spill the opposite of what you’re longing to be filled with.
You can’t fill a closed vessel.
Your heart. Your mind. Your eyes.
So that the next time you open your mouth
Love is all you have left to fall out.
with your heart & your head
of a future with love
accompanying all words that are said
of one people united
that care for the safety of all
a world undivided
of healing for all…
spread the message, share the love
& change the world
Every person has a story, whether it’s good or bad, everyone has something to say. The question that needs to be asked, how or when your story will be told? When people are sitting around, how do you want them to tell your story? How do you want to be remembered? How long will your story be?
“Every story I create, creates me. I write to create myself.” – Octavia G. Butler
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