|House (M.A.Reilly, South Dakota, 2012)|
Lately, I have been thinking about the choices we make--the ones we must reconcile ourselves to having made. I was walking the other day, listening to Krista Tippett's On Being, when I heard Isabel Wilkerson compare our country to a really old house.
Our country is like a really old house. I love old houses. I’ve always lived in old houses. But old houses need a lot of work. And the work is never done. And just when you think you’ve finished one renovation, it’s time to do something else. Something else has gone wrong.
And that’s what our country is like. And you may not want to go into that basement, but if you really don’t go into that basement, it’s at your own peril. And I think that whatever you are ignoring is not going to go away. Whatever you’re ignoring is only going to get worse. Whatever you’re ignoring will be there to be reckoned with until you reckon with it. And I think that that’s what we’re called upon to do where we are right now.
Although Wilkerson was speaking about the United States, I wondered then as I do now, how the metaphor might be personalized, fitted to one's life? What rests in the basement of my conscience? What lurks there? What peril do I flirt with by not getting to the bottom of things? And perhaps that last portion of the question is what resonates the most. Are these scary concerns just mine that I have buried? Do they affect you too? Am I even aware of what lurks in that basement? What do I act upon without conscious thought? What beliefs get built by what I have buried? What harm do I cause?
If this election taught me anything it is that reality is often unshared, and yet for all of our distinct differences, there still remains love. Love for other. Love for self. Love for country. I was reminded of the power of love as I walked up my front steps this morning and thought about the kindness of my neighbors these last few months as they have watched out for Devon and for me. I don't know their politics. I don't inquire and they don't advertise their beliefs with lawn signs and the like. I have read posts recently by others who say they have ended friendships and/or ceased relationships with family members because of the way they voted. That feels extreme to me, even perilous.
Surely there are differences among us. There have always been. And yet, in times of need our neighbors and family are often who we count on to help us. In losing Rob this year it is has been hard for me to also be so vulnerable, so needy. I have never needed others in the small and large ways I do these days. There's much I am learning by being open to the kindness of others. I'd like to think that regardless of my political views my value remains. The hope to understand other, to love other, requires each of us to remain open to what we are most not like.
I'm working to get my own house in order--my own basement cleaned up. That's what I am taking from this election. I am beginning at home. I am inventorying the stuff in my own basement and seeing what I need to understand differently and what I need to no longer keep.