November 2020 President Monthly Ezine
We're entering a time of the year when we're looking to newness and thanksgiving, gratitude and remembrance. October through December see our calendars dotted with holidays from various traditions across many cultures.
Today as I write, I'm thinking about three things: the election that has just passed in my country; Diwali, the Festival of Lights, marking the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain New Year; and the year ahead. I'm always contemplative, but especially so this time of year. And it seems like each of these things are wrapped up in the overarching idea that we're all in this together. Despite all that is going on in the world, festivals of light remind us of the reaffirmation of hope, friendship, and goodwill. In the midst of all that this year has brought to the world, hope is the thing that continues to rise to the surface for me.
I saw someone online state that "hope is a discipline." That resonated with me because beyond being mindful, since March I've had to be purposeful in seeking out and acknowledging hope. Of making space for it when the world feels like it is disintegrating.
I often say to folks outside of the Healing Touch and energy medicine world that my training as a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner is my superpower. I draw on what I've learned and practiced every single day and in every single facet of my life. I'm sure many of you do, too. It's one of the ways in which I practice the discipline of hope. Whether it's holding space for a friend or colleague who's tearful and needs compassionate gentleness or making time to breathe and practice meditation for myself, Healing Touch gives me hope. It helps to fuel my hope and my desire to practice the discipline of hope.
It seems to me that in our current space and time, the Attributes of the Heart-compassion, healing presence, unconditional love, innate harmony, and joyful service-are needed more than ever. My skill set as a practitioner of Healing Touch gives me hope. My Healing Touch colleagues and mentors give me hope. You, our Healing Touch community, give me hope because even if I don't know you personally or even know your name, I do know that you are holding the light in the world. And knowing there are like-minded people on this planet at this moment holding light and compassion for all living things gives me hope because I know that you care, you truly care.
In my day-to-day life, I'm a professor at the University of Tennessee and my research focuses on supporting families caring for someone with dementia. In one of my studies about how caregivers support each other online, one of the caregivers said, "These are the folks who hold the light for me so that I can see my way to a bit of peace; sometimes I hold the light for them."
That's what our community does for each other. We hold the light. It's hard and simple and inspiring and amazing and all the things. And I am so, so grateful for it. The office staff is holding the light for you. The Board of Directors is holding the light for you. Our committee chairs and members are holding the light for you. I am holding the light for you. And I know that you're all holding the light for me.
In the prologue to his memoir Walking with the Wind, the late Congressman John Lewis tells a story from his childhood to describe his vision of how we can face profound challenges and make a better world.
"About fifteen of us children were outside my aunt Seneva's house, playing in her dirt yard. The sky began clouding over, the wind started picking up, lightning flashed far off in the distance, and suddenly I wasn't thinking about playing anymore; I was terrified...
Aunt Seneva was the only adult around, and as the sky blackened and the wind grew stronger, she herded us all inside.
Her house was not the biggest place around, and it seemed even smaller with so many children squeezed inside. Small and surprisingly quiet. All of the shouting and laughter that had been going on earlier, outside, had stopped. The wind was howling now, and the house was starting to shake. We were scared. Even Aunt Seneva was scared.
And then it got worse. Now the house was beginning to sway. The wood plank flooring beneath us began to bend. And then, a corner of the room started lifting up.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. None of us could. This storm was actually pulling the house toward the sky. With us inside it.
That was when Aunt Seneva told us to clasp hands. Line up and hold hands, she said, and we did as we were told. Then she had us walk as a group toward the corner of the room that was rising. From the kitchen to the front of the house we walked, the wind screaming outside, sheets of rain beating on the tin roof. Then we walked back in the other direction, as another end of the house began to lift.
And so it went, back and forth, fifteen children walking with the wind, holding that trembling house down with the weight of our small bodies.
More than half a century has passed since that day, and it has struck me more than once over those many years that our society is not unlike the children in that house, rocked again and again by the winds of one storm or another, the walls around us seeming at times as if they might fly apart.
It seemed that way in the 1960s, at the height of the civil rights movement, when America itself felt as if it might burst at the seams-so much tension, so many storms. But the people of conscience never left the house. They never ran away. They stayed, they came together and they did the best they could, clasping hands and moving toward the corner of the house that was the weakest.
And then another corner would lift, and we would go there.
And eventually, inevitably, the storm would settle, and the house would still stand.
But we knew another storm would come, and we would have to do it all over again.
And we did.
And we still do, all of us. You and I.
Children holding hands, walking with the wind..."
Harmony, A Colorado Chorale from Denver, Colorado, provided a virtual performance for both our opening and closing ceremonies for this year's virtual conference. I share with you this video from their closing performance.
As you move through the last two months of this year-marking and celebrating days of remembrance, thanksgiving, and light-may the lyrics of that song and the words of Congressman Lewis remind you of the global community of healers holding your hand, walking with the wind, and surrounding you with love.