The following piece was written on November 7th, 2016 after the results of the U.S. presidential election were announced. The words remain relevant today.
Every cell of my body is screaming “leave!” this morning. There is no where I want to be less than here.
But I stay.
When I heard the news I ran to the toilet to throw up. I sat on the floor of the bathroom rocking back and forth, trembling, breath shallow, wanting so intensely to leave this moment, this world.
But I stay.
My mind grips and grasps for me to run away to the future. To the what ifs. To the terror. To the tracing of all the steps in history that lead me and us to this moment. To the search for blame. To the desperation for salvation. My mind implores and beckons me to leave.
But I stay.
As a woman, my body has rarely felt like home. For too long I didn’t live here. Here was not a place to trust. Here was not a place that I thought I could handle with my eyes open. But I found my way back and I stay.
Today the invitation I have for you may not be easy: stay.
Stay in your body. Stay with the tremors and the shaking. Stay with the pit in your stomach. Stay even as you notice yourself bobbing in and out. These feelings. This trauma. This fear and anger and sadness and confusion and despair cannot kill us. In fact staying is our salvation.
Stay in your body. Just sidle up next to whatever sensation is coursing through your flesh. Feel the pain. Notice the quality of your breath. Are you hungry? Cold? Perhaps the best way to describe here is ‘numb’?
That’s all welcome. Stay.
The body knows and it has evolved over millennia to process trauma like many of us are experiencing. These processes require little effort on our part other than loving presence…other than staying with kindness.
In staying we can receive our bodies wise requests. Is it aching for companionship? Asking for quiet? Nudging us to put away the screens or put on a sweater? Now is the time to heed our body’s requests. Now is the time to stay.
There may not yet be answers to the questions in our mind but we can answer the requests of the body.
There will be a time in the near future that we act boldly, consistently, together and with steadfast determination but right now the impact has just happened, the car has just rolled, the fire just ravaged through, leaving our skin raw and our being bewildered. So right now our best action is to simply stay.
Stay and tend. Stay and feel. Stay and listen.
Here is my call: let our response to this moment be deeper embodiment.
Why embodiment? What can embodiment do in the face such real-life practical threats? Embodied people are resourced. Embodied people are awake. Embodied people are rooted.
If there were ever a time for people to be resourced, awake, and rooted this is it.
Let our commitment be to stay and to feel and then to act on behalf of those whose bodies are most threatened. And it’s all a threat to bodies isn’t it?
Marriage equality and LGBTQ rights? Human bodies.
Racial justice? Bodies.
Reproductive rights? Bodies.
War? ISIS? Bodies.
Affordable and accessible healthcare? Bodies.
Responsible gun control? Bodies.
The disembodied cannot support and protect the physically vulnerable nearly as effectively as an army of the deeply embodied.
Don’t move to Canada. Don’t disappear. Don’t check out. Don’t give up. Don’t turn to your escape of choice. Stay. Just here. Just now. In this hurting, reeling body.
All you need to is stay and when you leave, come back as soon as you are aware. Stay.
When all you want to do is leave. When hopelessness nips at your toes. When you don’t know where to go or what to think or how to proceed. Just stay here in your powerful, vulnerable, sacred flesh.
The way forward will be found here and together, in our bodies, we will rise.