We are in this together. That is the only truth the White House is trying to teach us, precisely with its myriad lies. If we focus on different issues, it is because the issues are different the way the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle are different. They fit together in a wholeness of Truth.
I wonder how you are doing with your activism in these turbulent times. Have you found your footing? Are there groups you have decided to join, initiatives you have taken up, trainings attended or new leadership roles into which you step? Are you showing up at rallies and actions when you know it is your turn to show up? Perhaps, as some of you have shared with me, you are still looking for a place to land. I send blessings on all your actions and all your explorations.
For me, political activism is a spiritual practice, a process of daily and weekly discernment—where to go and what to do with my particular energy and values, my piece of the Truth puzzle to which Reb Arthur refers in the message above. I follow my intuitions like footprints in the forest. These footsteps have led me to the state Capitol in Harrisburg to lobby for a functioning democracy and to South Philadelphia to meet with passionate and savvy millennials aiming to save the Democratic Party. I attend rallies and marches, the ones that call me to them in the times that I can attend. Last week’s public action was a rally for health care in Thomas Paine Plaza. This week 500 graves were desecrated in a Jewish cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia, so I stood at the Jewish Federation Witness in Independence Mall yesterday in unity with many hundreds of others—Muslims, Christians, Mormons, Jews, Agnostics and Atheists, all of us standing for love in the city of love in the commonwealth founded on respect for religious diversity.
As the oil police claim victory over the water protectors at Standing Rock, I remember the horrendous BP Oil disaster that was Deep Water Horizon. I see how the fight against the fossil fuel industry has intensified and grown over the past seven years, with indigenous people now in the vanguard, as they should be, supported by a vibrant movement for environmental justice, as it should be. The struggle against the “black snake” of the Dakota Access Pipeline continues in the courts, and challenges to the oil industry grow in other threatened localities throughout North America. With the help of her people,the earth will have her way. I continue to assist as I am able—with my prayers, my presence, my money and my voice.
Times are dangerous and hard, but beautiful relationships and powerful coalitions are forming in the fighting of what must be fought. Let us move forward in the joy of this Truth: as Reb Arthur reminds us, we are in this together.
I send the poem below, written in the wake of the Gulf Oil Disaster on 2010, to help us remember.
Love and strength~
Deep Water Horizon
I have grief enough for this world,
oceans of it—stupidity, arrogance,
great, gushing gobs of oil
let loose upon our shores and
complacence, complicity: I confess
my own and weep for all of us.
But I cannot repress a smile—
because mysteriously I am and you are
here, with nothing between us but
sweetness of air, until we poison it
with our greed, our fears of
We are given an infinite sky to live in,
for no other reason but to breathe
and learn how to love within in it.
We are offered endless waves
to feed and pleasure and bear us
and a mind for inventions
to help us. But we make things up
about the sky, dangerous thoughts
like distance and the difference between
high and low, inside and out.
This smile that blooms me, this radiance that
turns my head and lifts the heavy lids,
is our natural inheritance.
Do you see? Can you too remember?
Our skin, alive and precious as any newborn,
tingles with each passing breeze.
The air we move in is a cloak of kisses.
We need nothing at all to protect us,
nothing to cover us but this blazing smile
that flashes like a sword, breaks like the sun
over the face of the deep.
Susan Windle, May, 2010
PS: Philly area folks, do you want to write with me this Spring? It’s time to claim your space. The Friday group continues in my kitchen, opening to new members at the end of March. A new Thursday group will bring in the season in the Wissahickon Park. See the Upcoming Events on this page, and let me know by phone or email if you would like to join us.
- Thursdays, March 23-May 18 (NO Apr 20) Spring Wissahickon Writing Circle meets for 8 Thursdays at The Cedars House: $216 ($200 for registration by March 18). If you have never experienced a Writing Circle before, come for the first session for $27— see if the process is right for you.
- Sunday, March 26. 1-3pm. Reading Pesach: Haggadah’s, Picture Book, and Omer Counting: What does Passover mean to you? Big Blue Marble Books is gathering four different authors and artists to share their answers to this question through their work: poet and visual artist Deborah Gross-Zuchman, poet Susan Windle, and Rabbis Phyllis Berman and Arthur Waskow. Susan will read from her book, Through the Gates–A Practice for Counting the Omer. For more information, see the Big Blue Marble facebook event.
- March 31-May 12. Mt Airy Writing Circle continues Friday afternoons in Susan’s kitchen through the spring. The group will open to new members, March 31. Call or email if you are interested; contact Susan or call 215-247-5545.
Through the Gates
The Omer count begins April 11 this year. Do you have your copy of Through the Gates yet? Letters and poems illuminating each of the forty-nine days of the Omer, the ancient Jewish practice marking the days between the spring festival of Passover and the summer festival of Shavuot— from liberation to revelation. A spiritual memoir and a practical guide, Through the Gates is for spiritual explorers of all traditions, including the religiously averse! Read more or purchase….