Gathering at the Table

Originally posted Jan 26, 2013

Four Friends @ the Table -d nelson

Four Friends @ the Table ~d nelson

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On our path towards heart’s dream, journey’s value, at least, equals its terminus. These words came to me while sitting quietly the other day, reflecting on a couple of activities attended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. With a mindful foundation based in joy, non-violence and equanimity, the past, present and future can offer me necessary insight for trying to do the right thing. Simultaneously, I can embrace beauty surrounding and supporting my existence, recognize that I and others have privileges, freedoms and opportunities previously unavailable, and realize that we must stay peacefully diligent to fulfill our highest potential, for liberty and justice for all. Zen multi-tasking.

Lincoln, the currently popular movie, is testament to our continued interest and ties to a troubled past. We’ve come a long way in the USA from legal slavery and overt “Jim Crow”, by recognizing injustice and passing equal rights legislation. African-Americans and other “minorities” are commonly neighbors, doctors, teachers, and professionals which I daily interact with now, and during my public health career. Women have more career opportunities, and not just in housework and child rearing. We even have a bi-racial President, starting his second term. But from a quiet place inside I honestly realize that this society is not close to being “post racial”, and that we all would benefit from restorative justice in our hearts, minds, as well as in our communities.

gathered & remembered on ancestor’s table

At their “Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade” presentation, Tom DeWolf and Sharon Morgan shared about their personal, and quite emotional journey towards racial reconciliation. For years they researched genealogies, visited public records, civic sites, graves and places where human beings were imprisoned, then bought and sold as property. Uncovering dark truths within our living, collective wounds. Guilt is the glue that holds together the walls and barriers to understanding, forgiveness and freedom. Healing in the knowing. Bringing light to darkness. Looking deeply we can see that people in involuntary servitude and slavery built & are the underpinnings of economies in the Western world. Their website offers further learning tools, http://gatheratthetable.net/ .

Reading other’s inspiring words & blogs gives me hope. This blogosphere accumulates endless outpourings of care for self and each other. Expressions offered without regard to race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, or handicap. Our deepest desire for a happy, healthy “now” for all. For a future to be possible. Webster defines empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.

“I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” -Dr ML King. Although I was young, I remember seeing Dr. King and others marching for civil rights on TV. My grade school teacher was in tears telling the class that the 38-year-old Dr. King was shot and killed. Because of his actions and those of so many others we are all more free than before. Yet, with eyes and heart open we know that economic, health, and education disparities based on race live on this day. I see consequences of these disparities in newspapers and professional journal articles. We all suffer with fear, anger, confusion, illiteracy, or hunger in our house, or our neighbor’s. Violent crime rates are rising. Panic buying of assault weapons. Poverty causes crime. Hunger causes crime. The roots of poverty and despair related to past injustices call out for our collective heart’s intervention, using the wisdom of non-discrimination. This is compassionate meditation in action.

gathering before the earth

“You have the courage to do it [speak out] because you have compassion, because compassion is a powerful energy. With compassion you can die for other people, like the mother who can die for her child. You have the courage to say it because you are not afraid of losing anything, because you know that understanding and love is the foundation of happiness. But if you have fear of losing your status, your position, you will not have the courage to do it.” -Thich Nhat Hanh, from his book, “Fear”.

May I continue waking up recognizing the gift of each moment, while looking with the eyes of compassion on all beings. May you be well, and feel happy and safe, alone or with others. Together we make this moment wonderful, and thus create the potential for a wonderful future, free of discrimination.

ps: You’re welcome to enjoy my chant for feeling safe

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51 thoughts on “Gathering at the Table

  1. michaelwatsonvt

    Oh, such an important post! May it indeed be so!
    One troubling bit that does not get spoken of is Lincoln’s treatment of Native people. Not good.
    So we are left seeking comfort and compassion, right in the middle of the experience of being human, eh?

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you, Michael, for your kind words and insight. the suffering caused by colonizing the “new world” seems to have no end. i have great compassion for what Native people’s have endured, from living and working on the Rez much of my life. so sad what the unCivil War generals & soldiers did with their ignorance & killing skills after the war. i practice to find the refreshing, peaceful elements available in any given moment and encourage others to also, do the same. i’m not sure what hope there is for humanity if we don’t soon come together. wishing you a happy moment 🙂

      Reply
      1. michaelwatsonvt

        Yes, let’s cultivate happy moments, comfort and joy. Just breathing here by the fire, trying to remember that our very presence on the planet means caring, love, and generosity have persevered over long stretches of time! That is amazing and hopeful!

    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you, bwcarey
      for your wise, kind words!
      he offered wonderful lessons
      on taking actions of reconciliation & peace.
      it’s sad that his teachings did not continue
      being practiced by his followers & students.
      wishing you happy 2018 moments, david 🙂

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Gathering at the Table — smile calm Martin Luther King … a reblog | paddypicasso

  3. Sue Dreamwalker

    I am delighted you reposted this David, such a delightful post which spoke clearly to my heart.. We only need to embrace our hearts and hold out our hands in friendship to ALL, respecting each other be it Human, Animal or Mineral, And we with our simple acts of kindness and compassion can indeed create a New World.
    May we step forward into 2018 holding out our hands for such a Dream to become reality.

    Excellent David.. May you have a wonderful Peaceful and Harmonious Year.. and BEyond.
    Love and Blessings Sue 🙂

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you for your kind words, dear Sue
      that always embrace the hope experienced
      with true love & equanimity!
      each of us living our dream
      so that all of us experience
      feeling safe, happy & connected
      to each other & mother earth.
      wishing you great happiness
      in 2018 🙂

      Reply
  4. Rosaliene Bacchus

    Thanks for sharing your healing reflection, David. The wound is very deep and scars the Earth in far-flung corners you know not exist. Each one of us can only begin to heal humanity’s collective wound within the small spaces we occupy.

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you for understanding the value of such healing
      for ourselves and for the world, dear Rosaliene!
      perhaps someday we’ll raise standards of elected leaders
      and end up with those with ethical, compassionate views,
      who promote peace, reconciliation & survival,
      more like monastics than game show hosts. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Betty Hayes Albright

    An inspiring post, David. Thank you for re-posting this for those of us who didn’t see it the first time. It seems we still have a long way to go (judging from this last year, especially). But there is hope – for a rise in consciousness throughout the world. Someday, somehow, some way….!

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      thank you for kindly offering your reflection, Betty. Yes, seems like a ways to go, and yet possible. Funny, I’ve been singing and playing that west side story song with others lately 🙂

      Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      Thank you, JD, for your kind words,
      which make me happy after returning from a roadtrip.
      It’s been beautifully sunshiny & gloriously raining so far.
      Certainly my wish for you, also 🙂

      Reply
  6. bruce thomas witzel

    Thanks David. i must of only begun in the blogosphere about the time you posted this, originally. Francis and myself treated ourselves to a new TV this Christmas. . . we had been waiting for old one to break down but it kept hanging in there, maybe because we rarely turned it on. However, now we have been watching a documentary series about the American Civil war, and learning so much about this terrible ongoing struggle. So this post is serendipitous and dovetails perfectly with my understanding. Also, I only occasionally watch the U-tube videos, but my heart, mind and spirit were so uplifted this Sunday morning, with this your song. chant and photo montage. How wonderful… how creative… who whole(y). And I have am smiling in this moment. Again, thanks good friend.

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      Thank you, dear Bruce for this generous reflection. It’s so wonderful we’ve met up across time & space, here in the blogosphere!
      I regret not responding until now, as I’ve just returned from a roadtrip across AZ.
      Makes me happy that you like the song. Something I need to sing to myself
      as a happy bell of mindfulness, going into known
      and unknown interactions with others.

      Reply
  7. Dennis the Vizsla

    hello smilecalm its dennis the vizsla dog hay it is gud to see things like this reepeeted on akkownt of it seems like sumtimes peepul forgit things they shud reemember if yoo no wot i meen!!! happy twenny ate teen to yoo!!! ok bye

    Reply
  8. Jet Eliot

    Lovely post, David, and exquisite film, congratulations on this beautiful and sweet video, it is a work of art. I like the musical stanzas that matched the visual so well, the past being a movie screen with those delightful funny old movie clips, and the future being a fantasy, with the mystical colors and light. While I long for the day in 2013 when we had a biracial presidential administration, I know it is of the past, and I look ahead to the future. Compassion, as you point out, carries us all forward through all times. I, too, feel safe with you here. Thank you my friend.

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      Thank you, dear Jet, for such a kind, joyful review. I recall making that song an important personal aspiration of going into fear, fearlessly. It was fun piecing together the music video, also. Thank you for helping yourself & all of us get through these times with your inspired adventures & compassion for the world. I’m just returning from an AZ roadtrip & regret not replying sooner 🙂

      Reply
  9. Annika Perry

    David, your post is as relevant today as five years ago…a deeply moving article written with compassion and hope. It brings to mind a conversation with my then young son as we watched the inauguration of the former president. All the commentators were talking about the first black president etc…my son became increasingly confused and asked me what they meant…he honestly did not see or consider the colour – just the man. Isn’t that how it should always be?!

    Reply
    1. smilecalm Post author

      a beautiful sharing, dear Annika!
      makes me happy how he is being
      brought up with the wisdom
      of non-discrimination!
      may you both continue
      giving & receiving beauty 🙂
      i’m just returning from a roadtrip
      & regret responding so late.

      Reply

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