Last week I noticed the lengthening days. This is not a surprise – we passed the solstice almost 4 weeks ago. The days had been slowly and steadily getting longer, but in such a subtle way that it didn’t rise to awareness. And then, one afternoon I was coming in from a walk just as the pale pink and orange colors of sunset were beginning to splash across the sky. The afternoon felt newly spacious. Entering the house, I looked at the kitchen clock. It was 4:45! The days have gotten longer.
I guess I didn’t really need to look at the clock to tell me that but it was nice to have my suspicion confirmed. After all, my mind has been subconsciously tracking the passage of the season. Now my body was sensing the rising light and rising to meet it in a new way. The burst of energy brought by the light was doubled by my delight at noticing it as if for the first time.
Last week, I also observed, along with the rest of the world, as the shadowy darkness of American exceptionalism clawed its way into the light. After feeding on a steady diet of fear, lies, and divisiveness for years, an angry mob attacked the US Capitol. As if that were not enough, the institutions designed to protect the Capitol and our representatives failed. This is a disappointment but not altogether a surprise. The dark underbelly of our nation — with its foundations of racism and violence, greed and corporate rule, individualism and separation — is demanding to be seen and acknowledged as it becomes obsolete, slowly but surely replaced by life-affirming ways of doing and being.
Watching news accounts of the events unfolding reminded me of watching the planes fly into the twin towers over and over again during the news reporting on 9/11/2001 and in the days afterward. Then, as on Wednesday last week, my body felt heavy and my mind numb – the only thought I could hold on to was, ‘this changes everything.’ I don’t know what or how or why but it is clear that, just like 9-11, this changes everything.
As disturbing as the picture is, we do well to not look away. These are our neighbors. Can we find our way to hold space to hold them accountable for their actions and also honor their pain? There is real suffering and discomfort involved in letting go of what you thought you knew. Growing and growing up is hard work. Some people put it off their whole lives. It seems to me the entire country is trying to grow and grow up right now. Some people are more ready for the work than others.
The country feels poised, perhaps for the first time ever, to live into its promise of liberty and justice for all — an honest, inclusive all. It won’t be easy and it won’t be graceful, but it is necessary and it does feel inevitable. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught that, “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice”.
As I imagine myself lending words and weight to the arc of the moral universe in whatever small ways I can, I am grateful that we are in the arc of the celestial year that turns toward the sun. That is more than poetic symmetry. It feels capable of bringing some alignment between human will and universal action. It is helping me remember how and why and where to offer my own light and my own strength — to being whole and healthy for my family, our community, and our nation.