For our nation, and for many of us personally, this is a time of brokenness. It is so very hard to move from brokenness to wonder, and ultimately to wholeness, without safe space to process the pain we carry.
Like the burden of grief, brokenness is not an emotion to hold alone. When others mourn, Jesus reminded us in the Beatitudes that the blessing is in the person or community that offers comfort. If ever there was a time to reach out for comfort and to reach out to give comfort, now is that time. We need the consolation of each other's voice. We need to pick up our phones and connect, or better yet, we need to sit together and breathe the same air.
In connection, in community, we are called to listen--and to be prepared for surprise. Deeply held stories are opening. Some are painful points of self-awareness. Some are fears. Some are deeply held personal beliefs that we may or may not share. Some stories touch encounters or experiences in our past. Like the red and blue maps broadcast on election night, this is a time of division, and we are called as a nation to self-examination. Individually and collectively, we are called to look in the mirror--and there is no conflict harder than struggling with what we see reflected in a mirror at the deepest points of self-examination. Like both of our political parties, our inner selves, our families, our circles of friends, and many of our communities are tangled in contradiction.
At times, we will want to run from what we see and hear. The pain, the uncertainty, the disagreements, the conflicts--the mix and the negativity will seem too much. But if we run, we will be chased by despair. And in a foot race, none of us is swift enough to outrun despair.
This is a time when we are called to individual and communal courage, compassion, hope, and action. We must devote time and space to deep listening. We must deeply listen to ourselves. It is hard to acknowledge our own parts, past or present, in the words and actions we are still meeting with ears and hearts filled with abhorrence. It is hard to hold the tension between opposites. We want the underemployed to have better job opportunities, but we struggle against the growth of some industries in our choices to protect the environment. We hold life sacred but are asked to support acts of war that maim and destroy. We hold children sacred, but we want them all to be wanted, loved, and cared for. Too many children lack physical, social, and emotional support and safety, and their wants
leave us with pain and questions.
We must also extend deep listening to others, particularly those personally wounded by word and action during the campaign and during the verbally venomous aftermath. Many people near to us bear hurts and fears we do not personally understand. We have much to learn from their stories. We also need to listen to those who voted differently from us and who now hold hopes for healing this nation. Their viewpoints may clash with how we make sense of the world, but if they hold hope for healing this nation’s wounds, we may learn from their stories, as well. We will hear words that surprise us. Some words will console and some will challenge, but in deep listening, we may begin to fill the chasm between "us" and "them." And we may discover what has pained the other and what has shaped a worldview we do not share.
These are not easy times. There are no easy answers for the brokenness we see and feel. But the path to wonder--and to future exchanges where we will wonder together from divergent viewpoints--is paved with the courage to listen deeply to the contradictions within and without. Such future exchanges and explorations of divergent viewpoints will require us to intertwine courage and compassion as we inch our way toward healing our brokenness. Like most healing, it will be a slow and uneven process. When our spirits sink, it will help to remember that in a time of great divisions and contradiction, under the brutality of Roman rule, Jesus called his followers to more than tolerance. He called them to compassion. And He calls us as well.
Dianne M. Del Giorno
November 19, 2016