I haven’t written much about my journey in a while because I’ve been largely without words the past few weeks. In shock and grief over the past and present.
I’ve been processing my experience of the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz that I participated in at the beginning of the month. I’ve been walking through the streets of the old Jewish Quarter in Krakow, now a gentrified memorial of the culture that once flourished and was practically extinguished there. And I’ve been reading the surreal news of current events back home: Trump’s shocking win, the subsequent spike of hate speech and hate crimes across the country, the militarized state violence against peaceful and prayerful indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock.
I’m unsure of whether I’m presently walking through history or history is walking through the present. I feel like I’m in some surreal realm where time is folding, in which the past and the present are overlapping on top of each other. I don’t know how to react. I wasn’t done processing the grief of confronting one of the darkest, most horrific, and widespread genocides in history, in which my people and others were scapegoated for a country’s problems and subjected to methodical, systematic torture and extermination. Then I woke up to the news that back home, one of the most bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic candidates in modern history won the U.S. presidential election, riding a wave of fear-mongering and scapegoating straight to victory.
I just walked through the archaeological remains of synagogues turned into museums, ghettos, train wagons, barracks, and gas chambers that show vividly where this can lead when taken to its terrifying extremes.
Was this a memorial or a timely warning? Am I dreaming? I can’t distinguish anymore between the grief over the past and the grief over what’s happening in the present and the possible future we’re walking into. I see and feel that, like the ocean currents in the Gulf and the winds in Europe, it’s all connected.
Friends back home, I see you, I feel you, and I love you. My Muslim friends, my Mexican friends, my LGBTQ friends, my Native American friends, my Black friends, my Jewish friends and family, all my relatives: I love you. My friends at Standing Rock: I LOVE YOU!!!!! I’m so inspired by you. I’m so grateful for you. With every report I read from you I’m tempted to cut my ancestral roots journey short and join you. But for now the ancestors tell me to keep going, and so I send my prayers and support for you from here.
If the black snake is not yet dead when I complete this journey, I know where I’m heading upon my return to the states. Sending you all my love, gratitude, and prayers. Prayers for your safety and success. Prayers for honoring the treaties and respecting the human rights and dignity of indigenous peoples and the land. Prayers for healing. Healing for the victims as well as the perpetrators of oppression. Prayers for an end to the cycles of trauma. Prayers for hearts to crack open to the cries of Mother Earth and her children who have suffered and are suffering. Prayers for those blinded by fear and greed to wake up to the sacredness of all life. I am praying.
I just remembered that it’s Thanksgiving – or rather ThanksTaking as Native Americans know it – over there today. I guess this is my thanks-giving. May the conversations and prayers around the tables tonight be in service to truth-telling, reconciliation, healing, and the actual establishment of right-relations.