The Election: Moving from Shock to Love
By Michael Mark
Voting this year felt like trying to distill years of carefully-gathered hope and passion into a single, oval-shaped grunt. It was like trying to create a landscape painting with a single prick of ink. It’s not all that satisfying, really, to speak in grunts, but that’s how the final accounting is made. You have to hope the universe is listening. You have to hope it understands.
When the results came in I felt a shock, a surprise, and a heaviness. The universe wasn’t listening. Partly it was the standard reflex to change—the sensation of being ambushed by the moment and not knowing what it means. And partly it was fear. I think by and large fear is what made this election so meaningful to so many, and fear of what the outcome means is a large part of why it has hit some of us so hard. The fear is staggering.
For those who have felt this fear, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States has come like a punch to the gut. We are winded, leaned-over, hands on our knees. We are grieving. We are holding one another close, or pushing each other away. We are lying on the couch, or marching in the streets. We are snipping at others. We are withdrawn.
But amidst my own disbelief, I also felt a tickle of exhilaration. There was something exciting about knowing we’d finally entered so tangibly into the unknown. And as I relaxed a twinge I thought of the idea that most of my experience of this event was rooted in the sensation of loss.
If we trust in the teachings of A Course of Love, then we must admit this viewpoint is not so. Things are not quite as they seem. For there can be no loss, only gain. The challenge I see is that we can only trust in these words if we can trust in total, if we can trust in everything. We can’t pick and choose what is trustworthy and deserving of our love—we have to give it completely. The world will wobble and weave and rattle as the opportunities to choose anew are given, but it never does so to harm, or injure, or betray us. We birth these interpretations and we lend them the power of our belief.
Two things have become clear to me in a relatively short period of time, and the first is that we are seeing quite obviously the weakening of externalized systems of safety and protection. It is possible whole swaths of policy will be swept away. How can there be any genuine safety in such a tenuous system? A Course of Love spoke about our attachments to externalized systems some in Chapter 2 (not Day 2) of the Dialogues, and the passage below is quite relevant I think.
All systems have been based upon your desire to understand the world around you rather than the world within you. If you were to understand the world within, you would need no systems to understand or manage the world without. These systems were attempts to learn the nature of who you are through external means—the means of learning the nature of the world around you. Thus, in the example of the justice system, you looked at the world and people around you and found the nature of both to be hostile. From this faulty conclusion you developed a faulty system based upon faulty judgment. This system was meant to help you learn to deal fairly with a hostile environment and then to develop a pattern based on what was learned so that learning would not need to be endlessly repeated. Now these systems and patterns have become so entrenched that no new learning is seen as possible or desirable even though the systems and patterns are known not to work. In truth, no new learning or new systems based on the learning patterns of old will work. Thus we begin anew.
The seeming difficulty with this new beginning stems from your desire to learn anew. You would say, ‘If the justice system doesn’t work, let’s fix it.’ You would say, ‘If the old way doesn’t work, teach me a new way.’ You would say, ‘I will work hard to learn and to implement the new if you will just tell me what that new way is!’ You would say, ‘Teach me the new pattern and I will put it into effect.’
What this points out is a pattern in itself. It is a pattern of reaction rather than cause. It is a pattern of looking without and wondering what to do about what you see rather than a pattern of changing what you see by looking within. (D:2.19-21)
A really important and subtle point here from the first paragraph of the quotation is that we have concluded falsely that the world and those around us are hostile, and on that basis we’ve formulated external systems to manage this hostility. It strikes me that this election has really called into question, for some of us, the validity of the idea that external systems provide authentic safety and protection. In the concluding paragraph of this passage Jesus suggests we’ve long embodied a pattern of reaction rather than cause, and I see that viscerally in my initial response to this election. The fear that drove it, and the fear of what it means are rooted in this pattern.
The second idea that really struck me, which is also related to the stifling of our creative power, was our fixation on specialness. We’re enamored with specialness in all its forms, from the superhero to the villain, and in Trump we have witnessed at various times a particularly pungent brand of egoic thought and action. And now we’re wondering if there will be any limits on what this brand of thought will touch.
But Donald Trump is one man—one man fulfilling a sacred role during this time in which we live. If we are to overcome our belief in specialness, we will have to withdraw our belief in him as especially poor, or evil, or threatening, or anything truly different than you or I. We will have to withdraw our belief in the power of specialness, and see that in unity we each have a powerful role to play in the continual movement of Creation. The deeper view of unity sees not just one man, but a collective process at work. And an even deeper view understands that process as the integral movement of Love.
The question is: What barriers remain in us to accepting that this is so? Where do we try to see the unbroken, undivided presence of Love, and experience a stall inside of ourselves? Where are the wounds we must heal? This election has struck me as a particularly powerful revealer of these wounds, and a precious opportunity to heal. I think we are being called to see beyond the interpretations we’ve held in the past about where our power lies. Can we go within, and come out the other side? From this perspective, I see this as an exciting time to be alive.
Michael is a utility systems engineer and a writer who recently published his first collection of spiritually-themed poems entitled A Cannon, a Heart, and Now This. He maintains a blog featuring his poetry, sporadic experiments with fiction and occasional Course related pieces at www.embracingforever.com.
Your Silence in My Heart
By Elliott Robertson
O God, how sweet it is to die into your arms.
My wish for every rook and pawn to fall so only you remain has come to be.
Now light and love shall shine into the corner of my house.
The shoji screen has disappeared, no longer does it block my sight of you, O God.
You undress each morning and my heart is glad to see you lift the sun.
You, Sweet One, have placed your silence in my heart.
How sweet, O God, to lose the voices of the queens and knights, to be left only with your Word.
How sweet, O God, to die before your feet, to be no more than fragrance wafting from the Rose, to be the ear that hears you laugh, the ear you need to make your joy complete.
Elliott Robertson lives in Philadelphia, PA. His most recent book of poems, Taken By Surprise, is available from the Kindle Store at Amazon. Searching the Kindle Store under the author’s name works best.