I really don’t like to be reminded how powerless I am. Last week’s news, though, reminded me just how little I am in control of the world that swirls around me. I go about my day, slurping my morning smoothy, munching my mid-day pecan thins and cheese, nibbling an assortment of fruit throughout the day, finally relaxing with a light dinner. I interact with friends, co-workers, salesclerks, family…the list goes on. Our lives all unfolding one breath at a time; one mundane breath after another. Taking for granted that an inhale will be followed by an exhale. My routine remains calmly in place with just enough deviation to add some movement, like a slight key change in music—a variation to add flavor but not dissonance.
And then, with a sudden shift to a minor key, I am shaken from my delusion of safety, control and power. The illusion that I have power over the actions of others around me-evaporates. A sense I have control over how the world around me will transpire-disappears. And the entitlement that my children and others I love will be safe behind a special shield from whatever senseless harm is fired their way-shatteres.
My 25 year-old son is gay and I have friends in the LGBTQ community. The massacre of forty-nine celebrating souls in Orlando on June 12th has been one of those events that has caused my own soul to shift. I’ve always known I couldn’t wrap a cloak of protection around my children to immunize them from the check list of hurts most face in life—breakups, losing jobs, a teacher you don’t like, friendship issues, etc. And I have learned (though I confess it has taken a while) that everyone has to go on their own journey, so I no longer feel the need to “fix” anyone anymore (amen to that!) But strangely, at some deeper level, I think I still believed I was in control. That I had the power to stop “something horrific” from taking place in the life of someone I care about.
Orlando has been that dissonant chord to the musical movement of my rhythmic life. I hear the sense of powerlessness in the cries of the mothers, fathers and other family and friends as they share their deep heart wounds. I hear their powerlessness and I am uncomfortable. It is bitter and sad. It is angry and bewildered. It is anguished and yearning. All these emotions seep through the radio, through the cracks of my facade into my marrow, clamoring for attention. The dissonant chord echoes through each bone, vibrating out through cell walls, tendons, muscles, and skin until my own voice chides me to admit what I can’t control. And I hate that she is right and I know that she is right and I fight for the right to speak until I am too tired to argue with her and she stops chiding and begins to sing me a lullaby as I weep.
My well-spring tears of sadness and acceptance reveal a new awareness and I discover that in my powerlessness I have a new freedom, a new power. The power of a deeper voice—an inner voice of strength, of truth. And she doesn’t have to be quiet, or even polite. This mother’s voice, may not be able to keep her children or anyone else she loves safe from fear, hate, violence, or even the randomness of life. But she can share her experiences. She can march in a Pride parade. She can post to a blog. She can own that, “just because she is open and accepting” doesn't mean she has to listen to what is hateful and offensive in the interest of “peace” or “deeper understanding” without sharing her own truth. It will mean risk, but teeny in comparison to the risks so many others have taken.
This mother, this powerless yet now differently powerful mother sends her heart out to those weary from the battles, the losses, the non-stop fear mongering. You will once again rise, will dance in the face of hate. And with each rising, more join you…my mother voice has been added to the 10,000 x 10,000 that step on the dance floor, sway in rhythm to the beat of a love more powerful than fear.
We, the mothers ancient and now, will be your strength when you are weary. We will be your song when your heart feels empty. We will be a healing balm soothing the blisters on your soul. And when you are ready to embrace the world again, arms open against all reason, our renewed mother power will be the response to your call, knowing you have birthed a deeper wisdom in us as we once birthed you.
(Note: this is a more personal reflection than I "normally" offer. I guess it is part of taking that "teeny risk." My son gave me permission to mention him in this piece.)