We are like islands in the sea — separate on the surface but connected in the deep. ~ William James
The ocean connects us all. ~ Florence Nico Zappile
I remember the November day that President Kennedy was assassinated. I was seven years old that autumn, in second grade, and it was sometime after recess that the school’s secretary barged into our classroom. I think she blurted. I think she didn’t whisper it into our teacher, Mrs. Babcock’s ears, that it was from the secretary I first heard the news — our president had been shot. And later, at home, I’m sure the television set was turned on, that my parents and neighbors and older siblings were all talking about it, that our president had died of his wounds, that the country was in turmoil. I only remember snippets, that my mother and my Aunt Barbie were planning a late afternoon trip to Portland and a trip to Portland, forty minutes drive from our home in Bath, Maine, was a big deal. I remember I was excited, that I was going to be a part of this adventure. And then I wasn’t. I had done something wrong, I think. Perhaps I had sassed my mother or had hit my little brother or just had fallen apart in a full blown temper tantrum. Whatever the reason, I was no longer included and was furious. And I do remember the fury, how it was all-consuming, how I didn’t know what to do with it, how it swept over me and before I knew it, I had flung my china animals off their home on the mantel in my bedroom and the Siamese cat with the white fluff glued onto her tail had broken into pieces on my hardwood floor.
Today, almost sixty years later, on this November morning of Election Day, I am remembering Kennedy and the television set blaring out news and my fury and the broken Siamese cat I loved. It is easy to get pulled in by the news, always available now at the tip of our fingers, easy to get caught up in the latest poll statistics, in fear and dire scenarios, easy to absorb all this energy, all these emotions coming at us, to take it all in and claim it as our own, easy to lose sight of our own inner truths and feelings.
At least it is for me. And I suspect it was easy for the little girl I was back then too, the day our president was shot in the head, to soak in the emotions of those around me, that my out of control tsunami of feelings was about more than a naughty impulse on my part. I didn’t know how to filter and discern and limit outside forces when I was seven. And I didn’t know how to express my own sorrow. I’m better at it now, not perfect, but better. And I know it is crucial to do so. Whatever the outcome of this election — and I am invested in an outcome I believe fervently will set this country and world on a more inclusive respectful earth-loving trajectory — we need to wake up tomorrow in touch with our own insides. We need our filters, our discernment, our own inner flames. It will be those flames, our passions and desires and beating open hearts that carry us forward. It will be our inner guidance, our own direct connection with the divine, that brings us the next impulse, the next step, the next action in creating this world we are envisioning. And this empowerment is always available to us, to each of us. And from this inside place of power, with hearts open, we can remember that we are all connected. As my sister’s six year old granddaughter said this past August, while sitting on the rocks by the ocean in Maine contemplating her grandma who had recently died, “It is so beautiful here. The ocean connects us all.”
So what am I doing today, on this day when I have already voted and am tempted to keep my finger glued to my cell phone, tempted to be pulled in before nothing is known? I’m taking off, setting out on a pilgrimage, calling it “Door to Shore.” With my backpack filled with food, I’m walking my way eighteen miles from my house to Lake Superior, following the old mining railroad grade on the Heritage Trail. I will have my cell phone close to me. I will check now and then for texts, probably will peek at the news. But for the most part, it will be me, alone, with my breath and the fresh Upper Michigan air, and the white pines and balsams, the bare-boned hardwoods, with that inner flame, fueled by all of this walking, ready to carry me forward, ready to connect me with all of you, from the inside out, into tomorrow and the next day, into a future we will create together.
Unity Sign by Elizabeth Yelland