Wednesday, January 6, 2021

A Capital Storm

I’m in Chattanooga tonight en route back to a capital in chaos. A Capitol literally stormed, and a nation not exactly connected. Unity as Americans seems a distant dream. 

As I write this, I face the illuminated Liberty Tower (with a star in place of the ‘dot’ in the ‘i’ of Liberty). While doing some yoga earlier, it felt as though I was almost praying to it.

Tonight in Chattanooga, I had a glass of wine at a near-empty bar where network news coverage was sandwiched between two other, sports-playing, screens. The wine was a California red called Conundrum. 

We have based much of what we currently believe on things that we no longer believe, which is a conundrum to be sure. Astrology is a good example of this. A collective reality is another.

A few weeks ago, around the Winter Solstice, there was much astrological chatter about the Jupiter and Saturn something-or-other. A ‘Great Conjunction’ some people were calling it. From what I understand, Saturn represents old or traditional systems and ways of thinking, while Jupiter represents great changes and new approaches. The figurative pasture fence to the curious horse. The mind to the spirit, perhaps. Neither should be disparaged.

In the past, astrology was considered – if not essential – a practical addition to any decision-making toolkit for elite members of society. Political and military leaders, including some of our Founding Fathers, based key dates around the alignment of the solar system and the stars. For them, astrology was as key to navigating one’s next steps forward as astronomy was to navigating the seas. 

In Eastern traditions, there is a good word for the reasoning behind this: Auspiciousness. In the West, we often throw around phrases having to do with stars aligning. We are certainly at a moment in time where wisdom is needed, where feeling should not be ignored, and where intuition should be honored.

Somewhere we stopped talking. Was it between cities and the countryside? Between churches and congregations? Between those that want immediate – sometimes radical – change and those that encourage to temper such change, or even stifle it? Did it start long ago or recently? Who stopped listening first? It doesn’t matter. We would all do well to begin a listening experiment now (although between the people and the politicians, the onus to listen is one-sided in a democratic republic). And we would do even better to realize that collective progression requires thoughtfulness, and yet thinking should not be the ultimate goal. 

This Great Quieting has been very challenging. When we are challenged, muscles must be strengthened. Mental muscles, muscles of patience and stoicism at times – muscles of fortitude and vigor at other times; Spiritual muscles as well, or at least muscles of Virtue, which can be supported or reinforced by our cerebral capacities but are not necessarily borne of them; and our physical muscles too must strengthen when tested. Our bodies house all that allows for this current experience.

Instead of ignoring pain, let us allow it to inform. Let us create new patterns for our Selves. Let us listen to our bodies and our Body Politic. 

I just noticed a building behind and to the right of the Liberty Tower, one emblazed with “First Horizon” across its upper floors. May we still dream and be hopeful. May this be a new beginning for America, the Beautiful. May we feel the sovereignty within ourselves to debate others respectfully while celebrating the sovereignty – together – of this nation that allows such debate. 

Writing anything further on the close of this remarkable day seems likely to be redundant and already spoken, but I felt compelled to write. The outrage tonight is justified. 

Namaste from Tennessee.