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The "Shadow" Becomes Visible

Here is the talk I gave at the Ashland Women's March in 2017. It is about our shadows, coming up for healing, in the culture around us.

For Women’s March on Jan. 21, 2017

I am a rabbi, a Jewish woman, and, on election night, when I heard the news that Trump would very likely win the electoral vote, my whole body shook. I shook from fear of what would happen to our country, especially to our most vulnerable populations.

That night I went over to our friends’ Bill and Penny Herman’s house, and Penny held me in her arms, breathing next to me to help calm me.

We feel such fear because Trump represents our shadow, rising to the surface: the casual way of lying, the racism, xenophobia, misogyny, anti-semitism, it is all there, and now it's all in the open. Another way to say this is that what was previously less visible to us as a culture is now more visible. And here is the silver lining: the only way to deal with the shadow, is to see it clearly, to have it out in the open.

My friend Alaiya Aguilar teaches me about crisis and shock. That is one way, a difficult one, to grow—we get shocked by reality, and then learn how to deal with it. The Buddha, as a young man, was shocked when he saw all the suffering outside his castle; through his shock he grew into teaching others how to deal with the intensity of the suffering in this realm. Although it is very difficult, passing through shock can teach us; we can grow bigger.

This is the time for us to practice: prayer, yoga, meditation, walking in nature. Whatever is your practice, do it. We need practices that help us see our own shadows, and have compassion on ourselves, on all the ways that we have hurt ourselves and others. That is how you can enter your broken hearts.

I remind myself: It is okay for my heart to break. That is what makes my heart strong. Let my heart break open again and again. I think of the pain of those of us without work, people without homes, without adequate health care, without safe homes or neighborhoods, in blue states or red states, wherever they may be. I think of indigenous communities in the Americas, people of color, religious minorities, immigrants, women, all of us who feel threatened. I think of the vulnerability of our beloved Earth and all Her creatures. I pray. God, please help us.

Sadly, we are not the first, nor will we be the last, people to live under an unethical leader. May we draw strength from the courage and strength of all those women and men in past generations who fought each day for their freedom and dignity. May our presence today, may the words we will hear, serve to remind us: we have the inner resources - to dig deep during this time, to pray, to love ourselves and each other. We never know what might be possible.

Feel your heart: that is what courage feels like.

Feel your feet, your legs, your arms: that is power.

Today we will listen to some of the millions of women and men uniting for justice, for peace. May today be a transmission for the highest good.

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