What needs to be illuminated?
(What do you want to bring into the light?)
What needs to be illuminated is the secret beauty in the heart of every soul.
To cope with the fact that our country is a hellscape of political, racial and economic division and derision, I meditate in the morning. Ya know, to gird myself for what is to come that day. I'm white, so it won't be that bad, but it will still suck.
Tara Brach had me this morning, as every morning, with “Greetings.” When she says that, I know that she is talking only to me and/or that I'm her favorite, (: and that she can see into the brightest and darkest corners of my heart.
Today, Tara reminded me that if we could just see one another as we are seen in the eyes of the divine, we would not have war, hatred or greed. She was quoting Thomas Merton. Our biggest problem, Merton said, once we saw each other that way all the time -- where neither sin nor knowledge could reach the sacred core of reality -- would be that we would fall down and worship each other.
What an illuminated world that would be.
Merton was Catholic, but he was a Jesuit Catholic. Jesuits, as we know, were the academics and less judgy than the fire-and-brimstone men of the cloth.
Merton’s words struck a deep chord. If we could all just see the humanity, heart and secret beauty in one another, maybe we could heal.
Arya (we’ll call her) didn’t want me to go to the end of the parking lot and behind the storefront to see the RV in which she has been living for four years. She was ashamed. She’s a 55-year-old veteran, trans, black artist from LA* -- and a polyvictim. In other words, she’s the most interesting person I’ve met in months. She knows from racial injustice and oppression. She knows from sexual assault – twice (once while serving in our armed forces), and she knows from housing discrimination – three times (even in "progressive" San Francisco). Likewise, she knows from her most recent victimization, when the “property manager," a bigot to the bone, tried to unlawfully evict her, turned off her electricity and broke her wrist. He assumed she wasn't aware of her rights and would be afraid of him. He assumed wrong.
I met Arya on June 3, nine days after a murderer knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes.
For her pain and embarrassment, I’m angry. For her lifetime of victimizations, I’m sad. I didn’t realize how sad until she shared the reason she can’t find a place to live in her RV is that it’s not “self-contained.” That’s a euphemism for the fact that she has to use a porta potty of sorts and dispose of the waste somewhere. The bathroom to which she usually has access has been closed due to COVID.
"It’s been hard,” she allowed.
For her humiliation and humility, I’m devastated.
When I was safely out of Arya’s sight line, I pulled the car over and wept.
For all of it. For our failure to take care of each other and her.
For our failure to vote and our voter suppression.
For our failure to see, honor and revere the secret beauty in the heart of every soul – especially hers.
* Facts changed. Composite, per usual on this blog.