Nov. 12, 2018.
I write this blog in the wake of yet another mass shooting. I fear this will not be the last time I write such words. A colleague recently asked on a Facebook group, “When is it appropriate to gather in community and scream?” I’m thinking … “Now!”
But how do we do this? What is the communal scream that I hope to express? It is not the angry cry for battle, nor the desperate cry for help. I cannot help but think of the sounds of labor.
Before having my first child, I sat in a childbirth class and saw videos of how in the ’50s (it may have been another decade), women had learned to go into childbirth smiling and never making a sound just so they could avoid being knocked out by harsh general anesthesia. You see, women’s labor pains were interpreted as annoying – a call for help, a sign of weakness and a thing to be taken away from them. I am not saying women should go through labor pain to claim their power. Not at all. I am saying that there is a power in outcry that must never be silenced.
In my own labor, I noticed that I could be quiet and act like it wasn’t hurting. I could appear tough. But that took away a power inside me. I did not want my cry/scream/yell to be interpreted as a call for help. It was not. Nor was it anger or quite agony either. It was a call of pain that calls forth the other side of agony. A demand of the universe that there be life and beauty on the other side of this pain. A demand that my force of creation be held in this world in my arms. It was a uniting of my body, by breath, my sound, my mind, my heart with the singular act of defying the facts of the physical moment in order to create. The outcry then was simultaneously an expression of brutal fact (pain), a call to inner unity of intention and a call to everyone and anyone that announced my demands for creation.
Childbirth is different from the moment we are in. And we have no way of knowing how many more shootings, hate crimes, violations of identity rights, denials of asylum and other pain we will have to bear. But labor’s outcry is the closest thing I can imagine to the outcry I need right now. So, if you hear me uttering strong words that sound sad or angry, please know that it is an outcry that simultaneously expresses the brutal facts (anger, loss), that calls us to inner unity of intention and that announces to everyone and anyone the demand for a compassionate and just world.
Let us not be silenced into polite pain. Let us cry out when we need to, calling on our deepest intentions with every fiber of our being and demanding a world that promotes love and justice for all.