“If you don’t know what to do, do nothing . . . except listen.” Maya Angelou
What a year it has been. Violence, turmoil and chaos. So many reasons to be afraid, to hide, to despair. As I write this, 14 more people have died, this time, in San Bernadino. Guns blaze and people hurry to buy more guns. What do we do?
In a lecture several years ago, one of my lifelong role models, Jane Goodall, reflected on making decisions. She opined that making decisions solely from the mind addresses immediate concerns. Such decisions tend to be reactive and possibly impulsive. Decisions made from the heart tend to take a longer view; factor in long term consequences.
I think we get confused about strength and weakness. We often think that swift decisions and actions equate to strength (sometimes they do) and thoughtful consideration is naive or timid (often it’s not). I also know in my own life that the difference between swift and considered can be a timespan as short as a breath. In that breath, it’s possible to drop into one’s heart. A chance to listen.
It’s hard in the face of panic and anger. So many times in my life I’ve reacted reflexively. Said or done something defensively, impulsively. It almost never turns out well. Most often, I’m left with more mess to clean up. When I take that breath, wait, and sense what is alive in me, I have more choices – better choices. For me, these have been far more often the choices holding the potential for healing and hope.
When I take that breath and drop into my heart I hear God whisper to me, “I’ve got you”. I feel held and I know I’m not alone. I realize that the world is more than I see. These are the same three words that Shannon Johnson, a former truck driver and San Bernadino Public Health Department worker said to Denise Peraza, the young woman he held close and shielded with his body during the attack. “I’ve got you.” Sadly, Shannon didn’t survive, but his words continue to inspire and encourage. I believe he took a breath.
My commitment in the coming year is to contribute more regularly through my websites and Facebook to the dialogue of courage and peace. I hope you’ll join me. To love truth is to love God. To seek the truth is the literal definition of a saint.
Don’t lose heart, Jeanne