On this day in which a new president of the United States is installed I make my plea to whomever may stumble across these words in this small space.
Today, let us commit ourselves to live more gently in this troubled fretful world.
There is too much hardness stalking the landscape. It is too easy to build a fortress around myself and my people, excluding those who differ from me or threaten my clan in any way. Gentleness dissolves barriers and boundaries.
Gentleness is the seed bed of compassion.
Compassion means to suffer with. If we are going to grow compassion we need to allow the sadness, our own and others’, simply to be. We need to not rush for the quick-fix, or the easy answer. We need to move slowly. Sometimes there is just pain and it can only be held.
When I refuse to take into consideration the reality of pain, I increase the violence in the world.
When I acknowledge the searing burden of pain upon the world, receive it, and hold it with tenderness, there is a greater likelihood I may perceive the difficult realities of your situation and live with you in more creative life-giving ways.
This world is a struggling place. Many people, whole nations, are in pain. Pain happens not because we are bad people; but because we judge life as wrong and demand changes we lack the power to create. We are all just trying to find our way in the confusing realities we experience. We do not need more judgment, rejection, and condemnation which only create more division, isolation, and heart-break.
We need to travel gently together as we slouch our way along this torturous path.
Gentleness opens space in which there is a chance we may authentically meet within our shared vulnerability. In that space the possibility of kindness appears.
How changed would this tired old world be if we were simply to be together with a little more kindness. Kindness is not that difficult. It does not require grand or dramatic action. Kindness can be a simple word, a small gesture of support and encouragement to a person whose struggle I have seen.
Kindness is the balm that allows hearts to open and expand to embrace even those we may fear.
But I am too wounded and too broken to simply become more gentle and hence more compassionate and kind.
If this world is going to tip towards life, I must open to a power greater than any self-will, self-determination, or well-meaning self-improvement project.
Certainly, there is no law any president can pass or court enforce that has the power to create greater kindness. The most powerful army in the world, cannot bring down the barriers we erect in our hearts against one another. Political action is unlikely to create the openness in which human flourishing becomes possible.
So, on this Inauguration Day, let us each stop for a moment. Be still. Take a deep breath. Relax. Allow your hearts to open and soften. In the gentle space you create with these simple actions, your true nature will have the opportunity to emerge more fully. There will be for a moment in the world an increase in the energy of love, beauty, and truth. This may be the only hope for the tortured journey we travel together.
take a moment to experience the gentleness and yearning sadness that are at the heart of so much of life and that shape so much great art: