During meditation today, I couldn’t keep my mind from chasing down what my counselor called yesterday, “dark rabbit holes”. His terminology for the dark places my mind tends to go is perfect. Theology and meditation often send me down rabbit holes of light. I love musical rabbit holes. Going to listen to a song on YouTube, there’s always a recommendation of a new artist. One thing leads to another and the hours pass gleefully in song.
Dark rabbit holes start with a pity party because of being sick and unable to DO all I want to do. Then there are all the mistakes I’ve made that haunt me. Then I read the news. Then….well, you get the picture. I don’t want to fall into that Alice’s Adventure in Nightmareland (a better title for Lewis Carroll’s book I think). Dark rabbit holes tend to foster nightmares in my dreams as well.
“You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it’s not that simple.”
~Richard Adams, Watership Down
One may wonder why I’m telling you, the reader, of dark rabbit holes when it’s a bit personal. Or is it? Talking with my mom yesterday about being down, she talked about her own challenges as an older woman going blind. My mom has always been active. It’s a family trait. Being unable to “do” as when we were younger, the challenge for all disabled people is to find a way to feel worthwhile in a world that values long work hours and busy-ness. Even when a person is disabled, one’s mind is often just fine but the body can’t keep up. Taking care of one’s health can give some of us too much time to think and if we aren’t careful, well, dark rabbit holes suck us into a surreal and hopeless place.
All these things kept taunting me during my meditation time this morning. Most mornings, the birds, the green of the trees, sacred words and solitude empower me to stop the tyrant who lives in my mind. Not today though. Sacred words seemed garbled. Prayer took all my concentration. Finally, I decided it was better to move my meditation to another time and at least clean my kitchen and sweep the porch. Perhaps doing a chore would help me redirect my mind.
As soon as I washed the breakfast dishes, I decided to sweep the porch and wash the glass door. More light always helps diffuse the darkness. As I swept, my eyes fell on the fallen rhododendron blooms at the bottom of the stairs. Yesterday the sun made the fallen blossoms shine a neon pink. While waiting for the dog to sniff chipmunk tracks, I noticed a pattern to the pinkness. A pattern that complemented the rock border I’ve started for a path. It was easier to see yesterday, but perhaps you can see the pattern in the picture I took on this gray day.
Seeing the beauty of the pattern reminded me of the trillium leaves that waved at us yesterday. Though my mind had gone down a dark rabbit hole, I had to smile as that plant happily waved at me. While I remember nature’s wonders of the past twenty-four hours, the local downy woodpecker pecks out a hello. I can’t see him this morning, but the sound reminds me of his beauty that I’ve seen before.
Some of the fear that chases me down the dark rabbit holes has to do with it being Pride Month. We had come so far in loving one another under the Obama Administration that it gave me hope. As rights are removed, denied, and stricken from states’ records, we are going back farther than ever.
I told my friends from undergrad that I’m just tired of the battle. But aren’t we all in some way or another tired? Yet, we must never stop going forward. In order to participate in continued justice for my LGBTQIA community, I will be writing letters to newspapers in rural communities where I have lived in my life. I encourage you to do the same. Make your voice heard. Look for the tunnels of light and go there. An excerpt of my letter is as follows:
Some of you will know this and others won’t, but June is considered Pride Month for the LGBTQIA community. It’s a time where those of us who are lesbian, or gay are encouraged to come out and be visible to our family, friends, neighbors, and enemies. It’s not that any of us want enemies, but those who would do us harm are many. We simply want to live a life that is authentic to who we were created to be.
I am more fortunate than many because my family does still talk to me although they wish things were different. There are those who are ostracized, teens thrown out of their parents’ homes, or are treated in other violent ways. Although I have been out as a lesbian for several decades, I cannot truly say that I am “proud” to let you know this. Mostly, because it makes me afraid. Yet, I want that fear to change to trust in the goodness of humanity. More importantly, I want our world to change where all people know of their value as a loved human being.
My letter is a call to love. Let us love one another as in working for each other’s well-being. We can disagree about the way life happens or another person’s choice, but there is no need for violence or condemnation. Who are we to judge? In this society where mass shootings are a norm, why would we judge a person for merely loving one another.
Scripture is often used to demean and belittle so many, but especially the LGBTQIA community. Yet, when we look at Jesus’ words, the one who we claim to follow as Christians, what does Jesus have to say about it? Nothing. Yet, Jesus repeatedly talked about the importance of loving one another, feeding the hungry, being humble. Jesus had the harshest words for the religious establishment of his time. He was most often ostracized and condemned for loving and spending time with the outcast.
There are many who will read this letter and only get angry or afraid. There is no need for anger because I cannot harm you or take anything from you. Fear happens when we don’t understand something. Perhaps we don’t understand what happens to our daughter, son, mother, father, child, and perhaps it is something we fear inside of one’s self. In truth, it takes courage to accept who you are when you are different from what is considered norm. That doesn’t mean the person is dangerous, only different.
As a native of a rural community, I encourage you to love. Not only to love those who are like you, but to work for the well-being of those who are different. Sometimes it’s as easy as not saying anything harmful. Othertimes it’s as hard as writing a letter. Often, it’s as difficult as coming out to a parent or friend. If someone comes out to you this month, it is because you are loved, and you matter to that person. I encourage you to be brave enough to love in return.
A lesbian friend shared this song this morning and it helped me get out of a dark place. Each time I’ve heard it, this song gives me hope. You are good, holy, and worthy of love. Believe in your own goodness. I know I do.
“Pain and joy, love of life, and fear of death know no boundaries of us and them. We can all wake up to realize that our happiness depends on the happiness of our neighbors and vice versa, and our real safety is in togetherness, not intractable conflict.”
~Stephen Fulder, “Do We Really ‘Have No Choice’?