Grant us mercy.
For the first time since I can remember, I didn’t hang a single Halloween decoration this year. I didn’t spend October slathering myself in the macabre and indulging my deep and abiding reverence for all things otherworldly. Halloween, Samhain in particular, is my most sacred time of year. The time when the veil is thin and communing seems inevitable.
Yet, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find the lightness in me to even carve a pumpkin. I had to teach classes, which made for a great excuse to do so from a quiet room and turn all the lights off so that we wouldn’t have to give out candy. My heart just wasn’t in it.
I’ve stayed silent and observed the conversation, news, and emotions from as many people, news sources, and influencers as possible over the last few weeks. I’ve tried to remain prostrate, in prayer, with my ear to the ground, in an attempt to look at, listen to, and hold space for the humanity of what is happening without flinching. I’ve reached out to friends. Listened a lot. Attempted to contain my own grief because my trauma is not lived, it is as a witness.
A Call for Mercy
I’ve struggled with how to hold space. Author and philosopher Bayo Akomolafe raised questions so many of us have: “How do we process the grief? How do we pray, do we act, do we think, in ways that do not reproduce the conditions that nourish the dominant tendencies that have produced this war?” or any war for that matter. Who determines what lives are the most worthy? When someone asks me where I stand, how can I say anything but, “With any other person with whom I can sit and hold space so that they can grieve now and live in freedom from this point forward.”
A Collective Trauma
We do not guide each other through how to talk with people about complex trauma. When it’s not your trauma, what can you do? When you have strong reactions that you are confident will deeply hurt people who matter to you, how do you manage them? How do we show up for people when we are not shouting from the rafters? How do you let your silence serve as a way of listening to voices that have been pushed aside and hold the humanity of others as truth?
I’m not here on this rock to be passive. Yet, I worry deeply about alienating people I love with my words,. That’s not my way. I read a quote recently that states, “I am here to interrupt injustice without administering it.” It continues, “Not to fight. Not to run. But the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciling and justice that sets us all free.”
So, I write. On this All Saints Day, I wanted to share a piece of that with you.