So many perspectives, one Great Perfection.
It’s a cool grey San Diego morning in the middle of June. The summer birds have most all arrived and, seemingly oblivious to the weather, are flitting about with their daily business.
Gazing through my office window, as I do, at the sky and pine boughs in the top pane and arid, but somewhat tree filled hillside in the bottom, I’ve been noticing more the last few days, the glass and beaded hearts flanking on both sides the small line of colored prayer flags from our friends at Campaign for Tibet.
Somehow the color of these objects seems more stark lately, the hues brighter, or perhaps just more crisp in my vision. The heart on the right is a beautiful red glass clear flames or wings lifting from each side, it fills with light and pattern, a gift from a dear mother friend in New Jersey, from where the glass was sourced. On the left is a sacred wire bound array of beads, perfectly complementary to the first in its size and theme, but a heart unique in its own right, also a gift from another time from another dear mother friend from the diagonally opposite coast of the continent from New Jersey.
It is a simple decoration, but inspires a warm, full, and easy love in my heart each time it catches my eye.
The house is quiet, I slept well last night, but my friend Caroline at the farm, now here to support me in the morning was kept awake by the ravaging sounds of wild animals through the night. I have sent her to rest on the infrared heating pad with an article of hope from another of our new friends.
Breakfast, later, will be oatmeal, savory, but later. The sounds of the house will pick up then.
Yesterday was a threshold Sunday. The first day after a liminal departure, a day of organization and preparation for a time of increased uncertainty, it is time to find new care partners, it is time to find financial resource to meet the offering here, it is a time to burn with both surrender and focus for self and world.
“There is much work to be done” sounds so cliché, and yet I cannot turn inward very deeply at all without encountering that sentiment.
Yesterday I learned a new term for something deeply familiar, yet somehow invisible to me until it had a name. The term is “White Space” and offered this definition for consideration on social media: “those places in the world not explicitly designed and held from a non-white preferencing paradigm.”
It seems that BIPOC have been quite explicitly familiar with this term for many years, perhaps centuries now. I suspect the pejorative aspects of this quality emerged somewhere in the earliest days of northern European colonialism (another term that reeks justly a pejorative connotation, yet somehow we must learn ALSO to hold this with compassion.)
I learned the term when I was privileged to be in dialogue with 40 truly remarkable people of mixed genders and races in an alumni community which I am humbled and honored to be a part of. A friend of mine, of Kenyan dissent, skin of dark, dark, beautiful brown, now living in Washington state, married to a woman whose skin is lighter brown, beige like mine, recounted a simple but terrible experience which illuminated this new construct for me.
When I look, it is easy to see how I have grown and been raised and lived nearly entirely in white space. I have been privileged to travel and so have enjoyed indigenous spaces in Mexico, Sri Lanka and India, and even within the United States Southwest to the country of the Diné people. For a few moments in a sweat lodge in Montana, but the count for me, as I suspect is so for many, in 48 years of living is not years, but rather weeks and maybe just months inhabiting a world outside of white space.
Of course white space emerges naturally when the indigenous community are themselves, white, just as perhaps “red” or “brown”, or any other space might emerge where a particular tribe holds community. In this sense it is not a pejorative thing, and yet…
Around the world, white space has been the quality of a colonial decimation of cultures, indeed the geo-scape of the planet itself has been shaped by the effects of this “white space.” While initially a natural emergent phenomenon, this aspect of our globe has grown to such degree that it requires our attention, our loving care and curiosity to transform it so that it does not destroy any further the rich and beautiful diversity of our world.
But this is not just a global concern. Remember the story my friend told which illuminated this realization for me. It is a terrible and heartbreaking story. He started first recounting the all too common experience of many BIPOC when moving in the public spaces of America, that he could not simply go running in the day for exercise with headphones in without concern that he might be blocking out important sounds of the environment, sounds of someone threatening or feeling threatened by him, chasing him, or some terrible and all too common impending violence. Just to go running.
This is what it means for BIPOC to live in the current climate of white space. But is far more sinister, even evil, than that.
His story continued. In a nice suburban home where he and his wife raise their children, not only does he all too easily fear that someone might arrive at the front door intending violence, but in a space I have always taken as sacred, that grassy place where as a teenager I would lay out to darken my own skin while reading and even listening to music in my Walkman, one’s own (and here I feel the urge for an expletive) backyard.
Our friend recounted for us, that even as a grown man, watering the plants that he might make the world more beautiful in his own backyard, he must consider each moment whether it is safe to listen to music while he works, or if you must be vigilant for the intrusion of fear and violence in your own backyard.
This is white space in America today. It is pervasive and dangerous and awful. If you do not know someone of color with a story of humiliation or threat of violence, being made to lay face down in the dirt and fresh clothes because some “officer” says “you fit the description (driving home from work) of someone breaking into houses, then ask around in your community. I can guarantee you that someone you know, or close friend of theirs can share such a story you. This is real and it belongs to all of us.
There is much work to be done.
Today I will tend to the first steps of finding new care, and finance to fund that care. I will look to storytelling and hope that I can inspire the right care to step forward and join in this shared labor of our collective liberation.
Wish us luck, surrender hope and attachment, and apply ourselves diligently to the work at hand. 🙏🏼
God gets to know things, we just get to ask questions…