Board Buzz: Park and Talk

Jul 30, 2020 | News, Racial

I love my East Shore- its people, the opportunity to express myself fully, a place to grow spiritually. I grieve when it is in need of healing.

Recently more than ever, I have been trying to see my life including our East Shore congregation clearly. I have always had this intention, but with the recent shut-downs and sequestering, everything seems more: more important, more urgent, harder to attain. And since the death of George Floyd, everything has taken on a different lens.

I’ve been trying to see what is front of me clearly, so I can have a better plan to find a way for healing. Healing from contentious differences at East Shore, healing from the barrage of bad news coming out of the national political arenas, healing for me in my grief over what a devastating toll the coronavirus has had on me and those for whom I care. The end result I have in mind is to encourage my well-being as well as the well-being of the collective whole.

This has caused a change in the way I interact with myself and the world.

I have been focusing on self-care: taking more time to meditate in stillness, listening to my heart and my breathing and giving my overactive brain a rest. I’ve been trying to bring the creative parts of me back into play, like playing my piano daily, writing what I am thinking about in my journal. I have been trying not to overload my schedule like I tend to do, trying to eat and sleep properly and trying to exercise daily.

I guess you could say I am trying to discard what is no longer working for me to keep me healthy and replace it with what I know will sustain me and my world in a healthy way. I‘m seeking in that same fashion to take a look at East Shore Unitarian Church with fresh eyes to see the internalized patterns of belief and structure that get in the way of the collective well-being of the whole.

Instead of confronting relational problems that I see in my daily interactions, I want to imagine how I can see people for who they are and are trying to be rather than for the opinions and behaviors with which I don’t agree. I would still see those opinions and behaviors, but they would take on a different meaning for me: they would be precious things to embrace rather than “other”; much like my resistance to other ways of thinking are precious things for me to investigate in myself to determine what need that resistance is satisfying.

By questioning and practicing curiosity, I want to see what is in front of me with balance, deep inquiry and love. This would fulfill me spiritually. Deeply fulfill me spiritually. And I won’t always succeed. I am tested regularly.

At a recent East Shore demonstration in Kirkland for Black Lives Matter, we were confronted by a motorist yelling from her window, “What about white lives? What about police lives, you @#$%s!” She was so internally adverse to the loss of power as a white person and the shield that the police offer white people (but not Black people) that there was no empathy for the violence done to People of Color at the hands of the white majority.

I and those around me yelled back at her saying, “You’re the reason we’re here” and other like statements. In what way did that serve her and our collective whole? I can say for a fact it served neither.

Granted, she was a moving target as she drove through the intersection, rolling her window up to shut us out and then rolling it back down to yell at us some more, she appeared pretty unreceptive to any reconciliation. But I still would have liked to ask her to park so that I would have the opportunity to talk to her, to discover her needs for clinging to those outdated and “othering” lines of thought. As it was, I responded with “othering” statements in return, we became entrenched and recommitted to our beliefs, neither giving way. No progress. As I said before, this did not serve either of us well.

That is an example of being tested and failing. Had I had my head about me, I would have encouraged her to park and talk. That way we would have had a chance for dialogue and maybe some reconciliation. At least it would not have encouraged the anger I saw in her face.

I can’t say East Shore is anything like that heckler in Kirkland, but I would love it if we at East Shore would figuratively park and dialogue. In this way we could hold each other, the entire congregation: emotionally, politically and spiritually. Through that healthy interaction we could ground our strategies in the reality that all of us are interconnected with each other, with people in the wider world, and with the earth itself. After we identify internalized patterns of belief and structure that get in the way of the collective well-being of the whole, we could better act on possible liberating solutions. We could all push in the same direction. Imagine the possibilities.

Given the opportunity, that is what I choose.

by Maury Edwards, Secretary, Board of Trustees