I was spending the morning putting up posters for our upcoming meditation workshop called 'Overcoming Anger'. The poster seemed specifically designed for this morning after the US Presidential Election of 2016.
While I waited for her in the cafe with my Earl Grey, I read a newspaper stuck under the glass tabletop. The front page was 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 walked into Boston Common. My friend had planned to be here, for a protest that was about to start for Standing Rock. A rally and march against the Dakota Access Pipeline—that would cross under both the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, Lake Oahe and its sacred, holy land.
We found them gathered under the historic steeple of Park Street Church as the sun set on this first day of this new reality of life in America—and I had my first genuine taste of its ancient past.
There were hundreds of people standing in the dark, simply listening. That’s what struck me at first, how deeply they all were listening—without screens or electricity in the way. This is the type of American politics you don't see televised. Where people stand outside in parks and listen to speeches.
One by one, a string of speakers stood on boxes as wafts of sage moved through the air, and as on the nearby city road, rush hour buses carried exhausted commuters home.
But then there were those who spoke of the water—the water that unifies us. These speeches felt medicinal. It was women who spoke about water. Because it is the women, they explained, who are the ones in charge of talking about water, the giver of life.
They urged us to start looking for the sacred within the land once more. To be humble and offer respect to forces in nature that are greater than us all. Yet forces that hold us together in common life. Forces that outlive the coming and going of our political leaders.
It made me think of the sign from the morning again, how love is unconquerable and constant. And how important the development of love also is for our modern world. How cultivating the mind of love naturally leads us to respecting others.
I thought of my meditation teacher, who often says that if we could all learn to genuinely love and cherish one another, many of the world's problems would be solved. How the mind of love purifies our mind, which helps us perceive the sacred nature of reality. How every living being is, as Geshe Kelsang says in that amazing video linked above, our mother.
The talks came to an end and the group began to prepare for its march to the Charles River.
But before they set off, they closed the discussions with a prayer. Two male voices rising and circling into the air to the beat of a solitary drum. This ancient call of humanity, rising and reflecting off the surrounding buildings of stone, steel and glass, songs that once would have bounced off lakes and forests.
Photo credits: (Top) Tree of Life by Kimberly Post; (Below) Image by Bessi from Pixabay.