Mystic Mondays January 16, 2017
Tough decision–March or Mountains?
On Saturday, January 21 (yes, that January 21 hours after the inauguration) I am sponsoring a ranger-guided snowshoe trip up at Crater Lake (if they re-open after getting too much snow!) Like me, this handful of Earth Adventurers went back and forth. “Do I go up and enjoy a magical day in the snow or do I join the Women’s March in Ashland,” they asked themselves.
Strangely, torn as I was, I was not as torn about the conflict as I might have been in the past. I might have foregone a trip up into the snow or a day at the beach or a hike in the woods if some urgent activist opportunity had presented itself. I have participated in a handful of protests and marches over the years. I am not one to show up at every protest as if it is a weekend hobby, but I have felt a deep moral obligation to participate in some where my conscience demanded it. But as strongly as I feel this time I didn’t find myself automatically carving out the day to join my sisters in Ashland.
So what was different this time. The truth is I would love to join those who are marching for “humanitarian rights, the environment and marginalized people everywhere” as the Ashland Daily Tidings article describes. But just as badly I need to immerse myself in beauty and goodness. I need to tromp through two feet of new fluffy powder and feel the cold frigid air shock my lungs. I need to take in the Christmas card snapshot of tree bows loaded down with bean bag-size clumps of snow. I need to stop and gaze at the glistening reflection of a high mountain sun bouncing off the blinding snow.
As the weeks have passed since the T-man’s election I have found myself vacillating between the engaged determination of an activist and the Om-humming contemplation of a Buddhist monk. Strangely enough both feel like faithful responses to the terrifying developments that have fallen on our country like an unexpected outer space asteroid. In the past a retreat to the mountains would have felt like a copout to me. “Who has the luxury of soul prayer in a dangerous time like this,” I might have scolded myself. “This isn’t the time for sitting on my butt. This is a time for action!”
But not this time. I need both. Something in me demands both. This is soul survival.
If I only withdraw from the ugliness of this time I would forever beat myself up for whatever sins I commit by the act of omission. On the other hand, I know that if lose touch with beauty and goodness and mystery and magic I will die. And I am pretty sure that I don’t just mean that metaphorically. One must have hope to survive. One must have an innate belief that the “great moral arc of history” really does bend toward justice, peace and goodness. Without hope our spirit dies and, sometimes, our bodies follow. This snowshoe trip doesn’t feel like an option. I have to dig deep and hold onto LIFE.
In a few days some of the nation will be gathered in large groups in Washington D.C., New York City, Portland, and even little Ashland just south of my home. They will march and protest on behalf of all marginalized people everywhere. If the big “T” puts actions to his words a whole helluva a lot activism is going to be needed. And I will be there.
But I believe that twenty five of us on Saturday will protest in our way. It is a protest against the insanity, the ugliness, and the terror of this time. Rather than fight against the darkness this day (there will be more to come I fear) we will enjoy the light. We will drive skyward up to Crater Lake and snowshoe on the eight feet of new snow received this past week. We will breathe the pure frigid mountain air deep into our lungs as a way of purifying. We will laugh and sing and take pictures together. Some of us might throw snowballs, lie in the fluffy stuff and make angels, and, if brave enough, wrestle each other to the ground like we did as children. We will remember when the world was still full of delight, hope and magic.
It won’t be enough to just to fight against the darkness this time. We also will have to hold onto the light, lest we forget. We can’t forget. We have to fight, but we also have to remember. We have to march, but we can’t forget to snowshoe, drink good wine, play like children, and make love. Fight the ugliness, but also hold onto the beauty.