I huff and puff up the hill, feeling the altitude of Boulder, CO, where I am visiting my daughter. I’m still trying to regain strength after a cardiac ablation, and hills are challenging. To make my shortness of breath worse, I have to wear a mask. And here comes another hiker on her way down, chatting cheerily with a group of friends. Not a mask in sight, and they’re taking up the whole trail.
I’m grouchy to begin with. The sun is strong, adding to my struggle, and this young group doesn’t even seem to care. Certainly not about me, and evidently not about the COVID risk or consideration of others. I’m tempted to say something, but I silence myself so as not to appear too righteous.
Probably other tourists. Maybe from Texas. There are a lot of tourists from Texas here, and masks haven’t exactly been a hit there.
Do you recognize my indignation? My prejudice? My judgments? Or perhaps you side with the maskless, possibly Texan woman? Isn’t it satisfying to feel right?
The only trouble with it is that I’m a meditator. And so every day at some point, I enter that place inside my heart where I remember that we are one. One species. Part of one creation. Part of the One Heart that beats the whole cosmos into being constantly. Part of the One Breath.
In that place, righteous indignation softens and I see it through a different lens. Yes, I have the right to be concerned. And, I see that those whom I have “othered” see it differently than I do. We each have our stories, our sources, our experiences and our viewpoints. And part of this great unraveling today has to do with the very “othering” that I am participating in only too eagerly.
This little journey up the trail teaches me once again that my job here is to find a way to tell my truth without turning against my own people, my own species, and my own true Self. Yes, there seem to be different tribes today, with different views that clash on every subject. This is how wars begin. How can I practice peace?
I actually don’t find answers when I look at the problem the way I always have. Clarity only dawns when I am in that place of unity. The way the dissolution will resolve is a mystery. But I know it must be re-created differently than the ways I used to consider normal.
Michael Meade tells the myth of a cave reputed to contain all the knowledge we’ll ever need. No one can find this cave, even though there are a thousand roads that surround it. An old woman lives inside, and she is weaving a magnificent garment. It’s almost done now. She’s working on the hem, made of porcupine quills she bites off, wearing down her few remaining teeth. At the back of the cave is a fire with a cauldron hanging over it, where she cooks all the seeds of all the plants in existence. She gets up to tend the fire and the seeds, and a black dog enters the cave and begins pulling on the thread of the garment. By the time she returns, the garment is completely unwoven. The woman picks up the thread and receives a wondrous vision of the new garment she will now weave, which will be even more magnificent than the last one.
Damn that black dog, we say. But the wise elders say, give thanks for that which unravels the world, for otherwise creation would be done. It’s never done, and so it’s our job to pick up the thread and weave anew.
What will I think or do or say next time I meet someone on the trail who acts in a way I don’t like? I don’t know. I just know there’s no choice now except to be a faithful weaver, a persistent one. One steeped in feminine wisdom. One who keeps asking the question, “What is the new vision, the new world that wants to come into being?”
This article has also been published in the Elephant Journal here.