Our liberation story may seem specific to our historical experience, but its message–that we are not stuck, that the world can be totally transformed, healed, repaired, and that the forces of oppression which seem so overwhelming at the moment can be overcome–is universal and as needed in April 2015 as it was in April 1250 B.C.E.
From Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun Magazine
What is our liberation story today? What is our personal liberation story, and what is our collective liberation story? Our personal liberation stories can seem so mundane that they’re hard to recognize. A reflection on mine began at Walgreen’s.
It was Wednesday. My grandson Henry had a playdate with Fernando, a boy from his class at school. Henry switched schools this year and I’ve been trying to facilitate friendships with his classmates since September. His two best friends at school are Mexican boys. Fernando speaks English as a second language. I had sent several notes with Henry asking if Fernando could come play, but had gotten no response. Finally I managed to get a phone number and the date was arranged for this mid-week day of their spring break. Then it was canceled. Because it was canceled, Henry stayed on at his mom’s.
Suddenly, there was nothing I wanted to do. I had much to do, but there wasn’t one thing that held any appeal at all. I wandered around the house telling myself “You could do this, you could do that,” ticking off the possible items for attention one after another. After some time, I concluded that I would go out and get something to fill the Easter baskets of my grandsons. I did not feel like doing it, but I didn’t feel like doing anything else either, and I was too restless to … rest.
So I stood in the aisle at Walgreen’s. I stood there so long that a clerk came up and asked if she could help me find something. I said, “No, I’m just not in the mood to do this today.” She walked away. A little later another clerk came and asked me the same question. I told him the same thing. I thought of leaving, but then I told myself, “If you do, you’ll just have to come back.” So eventually I began to pick items off the shelf, thinking as I did, that last year, I was on top of my game. Yep, last year, I was. Henry and I were re-reading an Easter book. “Owen and His Marshmallow Chick.” The book spoke of everything Owen got in his basket, and that’s what I went out to buy. One of Owen’s items was gumdrops. Another was buttercream eggs. I went to a fine candy store for these items. And of course there were marshmallow chicks, otherwise known as Peeps. Now it was only days until Easter, and I was standing in the generic aisles of Walgreen’s, shopping just to fill a basket because that is what I do. What is expected of me. What I expect of myself. I thought, “I’m going to announce that this is the last time. No baskets next year.” But I don’t know if I will. Maybe. That’s all I can say … today.
And this is part of my liberation story.
The week continued on in just this way, as if everywhere I looked, I was being called to change my story. It is not a comfortable feeling. It is a challenging feeling. I mean no disrespect by starting with the quote from Rabbi Lerner and talking about Easter baskets. I realize that they do not fit in the same category. The call to liberation begins large. It’s a sweeping feeling where change on a grand scale is fervently desired. Then it begins to move down into the everyday.
And that is the way of this Course.
Mari and Mary, here is my poem titled simply:
I remember when
My “no” voice was born
It was a voice not allowed
For girls and women
In my church
We were encouraged to be
Silent, suffering, servants
The therapist challenged me
Try saying “no”
I said “no”
She encouraged me
Say it louder
I said it louder
Then something broke
And I screamed
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!
I couldn’t stop
—Until I did
In the following quiet she announced
Paula, your “no” voice is born!
In some powerful way
An authentic “yes”
Was born too
There are no authentic yesses
Without the freedom to say no.
Paula Payne Hardin
I too experienced a NO moment leading up this Easter. Funny how I know change is in the air for me yet I don’t quite know what it looks like. Restlessness, change?? Paula I would love to read your NO poem. Be well my friends
Yes, Paula, thank you for recognizing my dilemma and for sharing yours with the cooking. How I can relate! I also love your statement that you can’t say an authentic yes without the freedom to say no. I’d love to see your “NO!” poem, especially as you call it your no “voice.” Endings and beginnings are so much a part of life, and yet navigating the period when one time of life is ending and a new time beginning can be in turn mundane (Easter baskets) and turbulent (which I won’t get into at the moment). Ha! Your “voice” and companionship as I walk into this new life is so appreciated.
Mari, I love your quote from Tikkun Magazine and Rabbi Lerner. You remind me of the insight and wisdom to be found there. My whole life is a song of liberation. “Stumbling” onto The Course is a major liberating experience as I am baptized in its teachings and guidance. Gratitude is the guiding light in my life these days. Gratitude to you for being the “receiver” of this enlightening message and gratitude for the skill and patience of Jesus as he peels back the layers of the illusions with which I have lived liberating me from shackles I hardly realized I had I was so used to them. I sense you are reevaluating where you are going to put your time. I remember at age 50 ish when I announced I was not going to cook anymore. I had had it. So many children, step, adopted, friends, etc. They were all away now and I was in grad school and wanted to write a book and simply had a change in priorities. I still cook rarely. Only if I choose to for some celebrative or inner nudge reason. I get your Easter basket dilemma. Internalized family and cultural expectations can eat up my life until my soul sits in a corner untended. I wrote a poem about the birth of my “NO!” voice. One cannot say an authentic yes without the freedom to say no.