On my way home from work, I heard the sounds of a crowd at the Capitol. I joined in to listen (Elizabeth Warren spoke shortly after I arrived) and chanted with my fellow citizens–the chant not “om mani pedme hung” nor “om mane padme hum,” but on this particular night, with this particular crowd, addressing this particular issue, “one more vote.”
Being out here over and over again regardless of hope of the immediate outcome being effectively influenced is a variation on tapas, on sadhana, on seva, on faith put into practice.
It seems that this monk and I are being drawn to the same places this week, though I am guessing our days are pretty different.
I was volunteering today at William Penn House, which was providing a comfort station for marchers during the day, as well as being full to capacity with guests.
I was doing some work in the office when a woman who looked about my age came who was in town with a group of women from Long Island for the March.
She came in to William Penn House for a bathroom, not because of any connection to Quakers or the house. But while she was waiting in line for the bathroom she ended up in conversation with the executive director, who said that the board member volunteering downstairs was also from Long Island–perhaps she knew me. It turns out that we went to the same elementary school and lived near enough to each other that we rode the same school bus.
It is just one of the reminders I’ve had this weekend of how connected we are.
These workers were caulking the fifth floor windows of my building today. It was snowing. (the flakes were too fine to show up in the photograph.) I wish them (and will donate money and sign petitions, write letters, etc to back up my wishes for all workers) health care, child care, retirement benefits, and a safe (as it can be) job free from discrimination, harassment, and wage theft.
Yesterday, the first of the year, I pulled off the shelf and opened at random Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird.” I’d found it used some time ago and was interested, but other things got ahead of it on my reading pile. The page to which I opened seems highly topical for what is coming this year:
For instance, I used to think that paired opposites were a given, that love was the opposite of hate, right the opposite of wrong. But now I think we sometimes buy into these concepts because it is so much easier to embrace absolutes than to suffer reality. I don’t think anything is the opposite of love. Reality is unforgivingly complex.
May we find enough love to suffer well the complexities to come this year. For me, I know that deepening and recommitting to my practice will help me find what more I can offer.
Tonight, in addition to the regular students, a group of high school girls who were staying at William Penn House for the week, joined us. Their school, which is a Catholic girls school in Kentucky, requires the students to select a work of service in their senior year that involves the quality of mercy.
On the initiative of two of the girls, the group came to DC to lobby their senators on global climate change for their mercy service. They mostly hadn’t taken any yoga, but were enthusiastic to have it be part of their experience, and we explored a little how yoga practice might support them in such service.