Uncomfortable Spaces and the Magnitude of Who We Are

Uncomfortable Spaces and the Magnitude of Who We Are

Discussion date: Thu, Aug 06, 2020 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Silver Spring, Maryland, Community Online on Thursday Evening
August 4, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Open to all Online on Friday Evening
August 5, 7:00 to 8:45 pm

Dear Still Water Friends,

Two weeks ago, during an Online Day of Mindfulness for experienced practitioners, Sister Peace, an African-American monastic Dharma Teacher, gave a talk entitled, “Uncomfortable Spaces: Cultivating Understanding, Compassion and Peace for the Work of Racial Healing.” Throughout the morning she explored how local communities, and the Plum Village tradition as a whole, might become more inclusive, might more fully support healing both for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) practitioners and White practitioners, and might more actively work together for social justice. The encouragement I heard throughout was that even though it might be uncomfortable, we each can listen deeply to ourselves and others, and lean into the challenges and difficulties.

This Thursday and Friday evenings, after our meditation, we will watch two questions and answers from the end of Sr. Peace’s talk. The first question, from a person of color, asks how she can develop a better relationship with a predominantly White sangha where she doesn’t always feel safe and and where racial justice issues are not raised. The second question, from a White practitioner, asks what it means for a community to be truly welcoming: not just on paper, but “a deep cellular welcoming to all people, especially people of color.”

Sr. Peace finished her answer to the second question, and her sharing with the community, with these words:

This is the job —  to crank open the door to our hearts. I used to have a vision that the door of my heart was heavy and rusted, falling off the hinge and barnacles all over.

I started the practice of cleaning it up. Bit by bit you know, take a little something and help clean it up. Release what we don’t need, what’s heavy, but release can only happen when we’ve done the work to recognize what’s the fear and to recognize what’s the loss. When we really truly come to knowing what is it that we think we’re going to lose, come to terms with it and realize “Well maybe it’s time to let it go.”

It’s a job of radical listening, real radical listening, taking that radical action that can help heal us so that we can be available and light, to help heal those around us: concentrically our loved ones, our community, our city, our country, our world, our cosmos, our galaxy, because it’s all interrelated. And it all inter-is.

And when we have a glimpse, hopefully, of the magnitude of who we are and where we all come from, the rest of it really will fall away. But the work comes first.

You are invited to join us this Thursday and Friday evenings. We will begin our Dharma sharing with these questions:

  • When have I had a closed heart?
  • What have I learned about opening my heart?
  • Were there moments in Sr. Peace’s talk that helped me understand more about opening my heart?

Sr. Peace’s complete Dharma talk is available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuDSB5X9VsY&feature=youtu.be

Below is an excerpt from an interview with Cynthia Rankine recommended by  Sr. Peace.

Peace and joy to you,

Mitchell Ratner

Excerpt from “On Being with Krista Tippett,
an Interview with Cynthia Rankine, January 10, 2019

Ms. Rankine: Well, that really is my ambition: how to have a conversation so that the space can hold discomfort, so that the thing isn’t a thing that you have to put over there, so that we can get over ourselves, in a sense — and I mean all of us, people of color, white people — that we have, suddenly, a moment where we have an investment in a kind of possibility that is beyond our negotiation of each other. I think the messiness of just saying what it is, when it is. …

Ms. Tippett: Yeah, but I think people probably feel like — that probably feels so dangerous.

Ms. Rankine: It’s only dangerous because you don’t do it. [laughs] Things get ordinary very fast.


in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Aug 06, 2020


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