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I’ve had it up to here with the news cycle. Up to here. Part of it is just hilarious, all the ridiculous things famous people are doing, and then the funny things entertainers say about those ridiculous things. But mostly we’re laughing through clenched teeth.

A friend was over the other day telling me about her Bible study lesson, and how she was learning that the devil divides, and distracts. She was talking about her real life, and how division and distraction keeps her from the work she needs to do and the people she loves. But I couldn’t help hearing her lesson for the nation.

What divides? What distracts? … Well, shoot. In this time, in this era…what doesn’t?

Here’s a bit of why I don’t talk ever politics, ever, on my YouTube channel, and almost never anywhere else. (And don’t think I’ve been that way all my life, because I haven’t. Scroll back just a little ways in this public life…) But I don’t talk politics in my open forums anymore, because one day I realized that when I do I am almost always speaking out of my wounds. And the sounds of anger and fear are magnets that attract more of themselves.

Do I think it’s wrong to have strong feelings? Strong opinions? Of course not. Do I think it’s wrong to have gushing pain? Of course not. Do I think it’s wrong to open your mouth? NO.

But so many times in my life I have been trying to be a prophet, trying to open people’s eyes to the distance between where we are and where we ought to be. And again, I’m not saying God’s people never do that work, or never need to do that work. We can’t close that door. But so many times I was trying to be a prophet and really what I needed was more healing. I was just shouting into the air, sitting across from someone else who is trying to do the same thing, and we’re missing each other completely.

Meanwhile neither of us is doing our work, of caring and compassion and ordinary, real life.

Distraction. And division.

I’m not saying that God never needs a prophet. But I’m not always that kind of prophet. Sometimes I just think I am. And I know for a fact that I have hurt people with my shouting.

I think that there are ways to talk politics that lead to healing instead of division. And certainly there are ways to talk about issues (which actually are usually people) that lead to healing instead of division. But most of these ways are not available on Facebook or on YouTube. Most of these ways are a lot about listening and respecting. Most of these ways are about breaking the threads between our wounds and someone else’s power.

…which is beautiful, powerful work. It’s redemption work. Sometimes I call it “compassion rising,”

If I could lead a movement, it wouldn’t be towards anybody’s platform. Not anybody’s, not even mine. It would be toward healthy, ordinary life. It would be toward self-care in a radical, transformative model. It would be about shutting off the steady stream of poison that is our media and trying to replace it instead with the still, small voice…and the sound of wind and rain…and the sound of our precious, fragile beating hearts.

Our hearts are so capable of caring for one another. They are so capable of love.

If I could lead a movement, it would be about evading distraction, and healing divisions. It would be about each one of us gently and relentlessly doing the work — moment by moment — to be the people God knows that we can be. It would be about listening more than speaking, and it would be about making our hearts so strong and so wise that we are capable of listening well without lashing back.

There is so much horror in the world right now. I can’t do it justice with any kind of speeches. Our electronics that we buy and use are connected to a horrible legacy of war over conflict minerals. Our schools that we send our children to (if that’s what we have to do) are a racquetball getting tossed in a game of policy and power and corporate money. Our prisons are full and especially full of black and brown people and it’s completely heartbreaking. Our children all over the world are in danger, vulnerable to evils of all kinds.

No wonder we’re shouting.

But how do we become agents for healing? Is it the shouting? Or is it by breaking the lines between our wounds and someone else’s power? There are so many ways by which we seek for dignity through power and they’re not the same thing.

I think this work starts very close. I think it starts with making the moments of my day filled with things I’m not ashamed of. I think it starts with this one heart, turning toward the still, small voice and interacting authentically, as best I can…and living with my heart open. I think it starts with radical self-care — by which I mean believing that our hearts and bodies and souls are worth saving, and it IS possible to spring the trap. I think it starts by trying to protect myself from the poison of fear and anger while not protecting myself from the truth.

The truth is there is heartbreaking crisis almost everywhere you look. And still, the angels always start by saying, “Fear not.”

“Fear not…”

Then, after that, they give all their instructions.

And then, after that…sometimes…people do amazing things.

Wishing you all some peace today, even in a world where that is very hard to find. Wishing you the courage to heal…and hope enough to believe that anger and fear are not our only options.

Love, from the yurt.

Esther