All the world is but a narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to be afraid.
-Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav
This is the 20,000th blog post I have written this week, but the first one to make it onto the page.
I have jumped off the cliff, and am in freefall. The only thing keeping me remotely near sanity is physical labor.
The smartest thing the Common Household ever did in all our lives was that on Tuesday evening at around 8 PM we turned off all media and went to bed. I woke up a couple of times in the night, because I always do, but didn’t look at any media, and actually got a fairly good night’s sleep. That was good, because I haven’t slept much since.
Wednesday morning the radio said the words, “President-elect Trump.” I turned off the radio.
Let me say here that for weeks before the election, I expected Mr. Trump to win. However, on election day, I went to cast my vote for the first woman president, and I felt hopeful.
Despite my expectation, I was profoundly jarred by the result. I guess I hadn’t truly thought it through.
|Relativity, by M.C. Escher|
On Wednesday morning, the world became an M.C. Escher print. Look at your immediate surroundings: all the lines seem straight, and the ground appears solid. But start moving around in this new world, and you find that the staircase ends, the ground is now a wall, the wall is now beneath your feet. Everything is in place and yet out of place.
I didn’t know what else to do, so I went outside to rake leaves. I raked furiously for half an hour, sobbing the entire time. When I stopped for a moment, I discovered I had rubbed the skin right off my hands in a few spots.
Older Daughter texted me: “I’m scared.” Grocery shopping in a fog, followed by more sobbing at home. I drove over to church to try to pray. All I could get out was one of Anne Lamott’s eternal prayer words: help. And at the same time I was astonished at my extreme reaction. Why this deep well of grief for something which I had been expecting? For something which stands a chance of not affecting my life huge amount (after all, I’m a white Christian, past child-bearing age, gainfully employed, with proper citizenship papers)?
A friend said, “It feels like someone died.” Yes. Is hope dead? Is decency dead? Is trust dead? Is my faith dead? I know I feel reluctant to call myself a Christian now.
|Instrument of torture: the rivet gun|
I thought that the best thing to do would be to get out my gun: my rivet gun. (Other people would call it a staple gun, but I’m saying it’s a rivet gun. Because some of us just have this need to feel powerful in the eyes of others.)
I decided to try to tackle a project I had been putting off: reupholstering the kitchen chairs. I forced myself into the car for the trip to the fabric store to buy new foam padding. By the grace of God I was able to keep myself pulled together in the store. It seemed fitting that the coupon I had taken the time to print out applied only to the 79-cent poster board, and not the $50 of foam padding. As I made my purchase I kept thinking that now that nobody in power gives a damn about the environment, I shouldn’t be buying foam padding at all.
Reupholstering chair seats is a tough job. It took me about two hours to finish one, and then I was exhausted and quit for the day. My wrists were in agony and my hands had numerous little cuts from removing the old rivets. It turned out to be far harder for me to cut 2” foam with scissors than the fabric store employee had implied. My injuries seemed an appropriate form of self-flagellation.
Then I got the message that the synagogue would be having a hastily-organized worship service of healing. The service included these words:
Michamocha – facing uncertainty
There was that moment at the Red Sea when our people despaired like never before. Looking behind, the people saw an enemy coming for them. Looking ahead, the waters seemed ready to swallow them up.
To stand still was not an option.
Pick up your feet. Take the next step forward. Step into the water.
|I have no clue what this flower has to do with anything.|
But there it is, blooming as if nothing has changed.
|A reminder of the everyday miracles than can|
help us step into the water.
Note to the reader: In the next few posts I will likely be working out my reaction on this blog. It's part of my therapy and self-care. I don't know if I will post a link on facebook or not. If, for some odd reason, you are interested in my soul-searching, please take the initiative (without the facebook prompt) to come back to this blog again.