The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up — ever — trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy?
~ Terry Tempest Williams
“Heart” comes from the Latin cor and points not merely to our emotions, but to the core of the self, that center-place where all of our ways of knowing converge — intellectual, emotional, sensory, intuitive, imaginative, experiential, relational, and bodily, among others. The heart is where we integrate what we know in our minds with what we know in our bones, the place where our knowledge can become more fully human. Cor is also the Latin root from which we get the word courage. When all that we understand of self and world comes together in the center-place called the heart, we are more likely to find the courage to act humanely on what we know.
~ Parker J. Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy
The Figure a Poem Makes
No one can really hold that ecstasy should be static and stand still in one place. It begins in delight, it inclines to the impulse, it assumes direction with the first line laid down, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life — Not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion.
~ Robert Frost
That ‘momentary stay against confusion’ is the lighthouse that allows us to reset our intentions towards kindness and towards kinship, words that share a root etymologically.
~ Jane Hirshfield, from an interview I listened to recently but forgot to take note of the website when I took note of her words
After a rain mushrooms appear on the surface of the earth as if from nowhere. Many do so from a sometimes vast underground fungus that remains invisible and largely unknown. What we call mushrooms mycologists call the fruiting body of the larger, less visible fungus. Uprisings and revolutions are often considered to be spontaneous, but less visible long-term organizing and groundwork — or underground work — often laid the foundation. Changes in ideas and values also result from work done by writers, scholars, public intellectuals, social activists, and participants in social media. It seems insignificant or peripheral until very different outcomes emerge from transformed assumptions about who and what matters, who should be heard and believed, who has rights.
Ideas at first considered outrageous or ridiculous or extreme gradually become what people think they’ve always believed. How the transformation happened is rarely remembered, in part because it’s compromising: it recalls the mainstream when the mainstream was, say, rabidly homophobic or racist in a way it no longer is; and it recalls that power comes from the shadows and the margins, that our hope is in the dark around the edges, not the limelight of center stage. Our hope and often our power.
Change is rarely straightforward… Sometimes it’s as complex as chaos theory and as slow as evolution. Even things that seem to happen suddenly arise from deep roots in the past or from long-dormant seeds.
~ Rebecca Solnit
Dissents speak to a future age.
~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg
History has the cruel reality of a nightmare, and the grandeur of man consists in his making beautiful and lasting works out of the real substance of that nightmare. Or, to put it another way, it consists in transforming the nightmare into vision; in freeing ourselves from the shapeless horror of reality – if only for an instant – by means of creation.
~ Octavio Paz
I think of the trees and how simply they let go, let fall the riches of a season, how without grief (it seems) they can let go and go deep into their roots for renewal and sleep…. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.
~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude
What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.”
~ Ganga White
…But I wonder if the virus is a symptom, that we’ve actually been ill for decades and are only now struggling to name the cause of this plague. Of course, politicians argue over what’s most profitable: prevention or the cure. We were contemplating the ripple effects of the virus: who might slip into poverty, what it would mean to lose our loved ones and not be able to publicly mourn them. The run on toilet paper and bottled water, on meat and guns, tells you everything you need to know about our national character.
~ Amaud Jamaul Johnson, And God Laughs
Recent studies and discoveries increasingly point out that we heal primarily in and through the body, not just through the rational brain. We can all create more room, and more opportunities for growth, in our nervous systems. But we do this primarily through what our bodies experience and do—not through what we think or realize or cognitively figure out.
~ Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies