By Dr. Thyonne Gordon
I ended last week with a prayer in remembrance of the Charleston, SC churchgoers who were killed just a year ago. It was a disheartening memory during a week of tragic events that included, in Orlando, a toddler drowning from an alligator attack and a senseless shooting at a nightclub, taking the lives of 49 and injuring 53.
The week left me feeling a bit numb. I thought I’d had a horrid nightmare but when I awakened on Saturday morning, the news was still blaring the reality of the tragedies from the week. I realized then that I was uncomfortable with death and even more so when violence was associated. What also became clear was that I needed to find a place to move through and beyond these losses and get back on track. I wrestled with questions of how to move forward and accept losses gracefully. I asked myself, where forgiveness and understanding came into play and, I wanted to know, how to feel safe and secure again when everything seemed to be unraveling in a complex and challenging world-scape. To find answers, I often lean to the elders and in this instance my favorite quote by Maya Angelou kept ringing in my ear:
“I’ve found that amongst its’ other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
Now, this quote normally resonates with me when used for fundraising campaigns with nonprofit organizations. However, in this instance, I wasn’t sure how it related to the significance of loss. I walked along a magnificent stretch in Los Angeles’ Kenneth Hahn Park to open my mind and heart to further understanding. Wandering through the splendor and phenomena of nature, I watched bees and hummingbirds buzz and whir through a floral landscape that, just a month ago, was barren and dry. (see photos) In the moment of “taking it all in,” I began to recognize that as the birds and bees fed from the nectar of the flowers, they also gifted life to the seed through the pollination process. It was in this giving and receiving dance that I came to my understanding of handling loss.
Nature did not mourn the loss of the colors from winter–even though much of the plant life was trampled upon or beaten down, and the frost or lack of rain killed the flowers bloom. Instead, nature continued and celebrated, by feeding from and into, the buds that exist today. What if we paralleled nature and focused on purposed giving for the time we have instead of wallowing in what was? Through these revelations and amongst the backdrop of purples, yellows and reds — I wrote some words on liberating loss through giving which I share below.
What if we shift our anxious energies
from grievous sorrow to that of joy
and hope for tomorrow; And our
bitter hatred for what occurred,
to passionate action, quickly spurred.
That would gift PROMISE.
What if our tears flowed like showers of rain
To wash away our fears, hatred and pain;
And what if we gave ear to understand that
Every man has a plan, to stand, for something;
And even when he falls we can give
the gift of ACCEPTANCE.
And what if we just give GRACE
When we lack understanding of
Race, gender or choices of one to
Be their authentic self.
What if we graced people to be themselves?
What if when we don’t agree,
we can agree to disagree; that
our similarities and differences
Are one in the same, based on the name
We call “other”;
And understand “other” is really
You, Us and Me;
The gift from “other” is the new name WE.
And what if we declared
We are no longer scared
To speak out and stand up
for Tolerance, Understanding and Love;
To be righteous for everyone’s rights,
And bold with conviction and fight,
for freedom, to give the greatest gift of all.
Which I’ve been told, through stories of old;
is seeding into others and tending of soul.
The gift of tending uplifts the SOUL.
What if we, as Pacifica live in the PROMISE of ACCEPTANCE and GRACE that WE make a difference when giving and tending SOUL?
On behalf of the board of trustees of Pacifica, we send light and love in memory of those lost in these most recent tragedies. And, we stay in solidarity with the entire Pacifica body in the tending of souls in and of the world.