I’d spent the morning putting up posters for a meditation course about “Overcoming Anger”- the timing was uncanny and accidental. I walked into coffee shops, oddly silent with 20-year olds tethered to laptops and phones, not talking to one another, their faces blue from the electricity. Perhaps still in shock from the election result. The cashiers seemed relieved to see the posters.
Then in the afternoon, I took a coach to the moneyed towers of Boston where cafes were now full and buzzing with college students. I was having tea with my friend from our Buddhist center. While I waited for her, I read the newspaper stuck under the glass tabletop, the front page from November 23, 1963. The day after JFK was killed. I read about how Johnson that day walked down a lonely corridor of the White House, "bearing the tremendous weight and burden” of becoming the leader of the free world.
After tea, we crossed the road outside and joined a protest for Standing Rock that just so happened to be taking place in a corner of Boston Common. Under the architecture of an ancient church, the sun set on this first day of this new reality of life in America. And I had my first tangible taste of its ancient past.
There were maybe 100 people gathered. Listening. That’s what struck me first, how deeply they were listening—without screens or electricity in the way. A string of speakers spoke as wafts of sage moved through the air, as rush hour buses carried exhausted commuters home.
The women of various tribes talked about water. Because it is the women of many of these tribes who are the ones in charge of talking about the water, the giver of life.
They finished with a song and one drum. I listened to those circular calls. I stood there in that November night air, with that crowd of people, and we listened to two men's voices circling around the two trees standing beside the glass and metal towers, singing a song that once would have bounced off forests and lakes.
Photo credit: Tree of Life by Kimberly Post