I have been at a loss for words since I saw the death of George Floyd on TV. Tears, anxiety, pain, fear...all of it has permeated our home, as it should when faced with the horrific question:
How does a man die begging for his life -"I can't breathe" - with others looking on and no one intervening? There are some things I cannot grasp, though I know it happens as I studied this in my undergrad and I see it now in ministry. But, I still cannot grasp the Bystander Effect. It is not in my nature.
"I can't Breathe."
No response from police.
No movement of the deadly knee.
No intervention from those standing by.
Where is our humanity?
I keep coming back to Chinese Medicine - Yin and the 5 Elements as I have sat in the contemplative silence trying to find words.
Breath/Lung = Yin element of Metal = Grief and True Self.
From my perspective, our entire world is in the midst of a crisis of breath/grief/true self. From the worldwide climate crisis to the polluted air we breathe, to the pandemic causing suffocating pneumonias with disproportionate impact on marginalized communities - elderly, chronically ill, minority, African American.
But the very intimate murder of George Floyd - taking his breath before our eyes - has hit a nerve with a long history that needs expression and acknowledgement. The righteous anger and grief emerging will not be a "pretty" process; and asking those around us to be professional and perfect while walking through this pain is inhumane. Space for anger/grief, support for our neighbor, listening, attempting to communicate, being willing to engage...
As I read what those close to me have written, I want to say that I am listening. I may not always speak loudly, but I am listening...and I am praying...carefully holding space for those who are grieving, taking care to give the pain to the old growth trees surrounding my hermitage for cleansing so I don't hold it within my healing body.
Note that the expression of righteous anger and the need for healing does not apply to the violent opportunistic groups (i.e. white supremicists in seattle) that seek to spread rumors and fan the flames of chaos for their own nefarious agendas.