thought I’d hop over to the pond and crosspost this weeks Sabbath Time. It’s a series I’ve been doing for 38 weeks now over on MyLeftWing (thanks MSOC, and happy birthday!).
This week is my first repeat – but the entry from week 5 really sums up how I’m feeling right now – and is centered around Guernica – the anniversary of an atrocity that makes it timely again.
I hope my many BooTribber friends find something they might need here.
Yeah yeah, I hear you say – this Sabbath Time idea is nice enough. Let’s all remember to rest, think happy thoughts. Yadda yadda…. Kumbuya What the fuck ever simplexity.
But God Damnit I’m Angry! I’m frustrated. I’m afraid, I’m filled with sorrow. Fascists are taking over. My nation – America! – abandoned the poor to drown. The world is fucking ending. and I’ve got to DO Something.
Which is precisely why we must remember the idea of Sabbath. I believe – however you want to describe it – that we are all connected. How we spend our individual energy affects – positively or negatively – our collective energy.
We have ample grounds for anger. We frankly have ample grounds for hatred.   But we are not alone in the world, nor are we unique in history. Anger and hatred are insidious things – they do the most harm not to those they are directed at – but to those who hold them. They burrow into our hearts and eat away at our own humanity.
I submit that those who give into and are controlled by their anger and hatreds are precisely what we are fighting. If we give in to anger, fear and hatred – if we let them control us – we become that which we are fighting – then that which we are fighting has won.
The artwork for this week’s Sabbath Time is Guernica by Pablo Picasso. Painted for the Spanish Pavilion 1937 World’s Fair, it has been called modern art’s most powerful antiwar statement.
Please follow me after the break. We can talk about this painting, about anger, fear, sorrow, and about Sabbath.
This is a place of rest, a cool place. – I’m glad you’re here today – come take a load off 🙂
Please click here to learn more about the painting
In 1937, Spain was in the midst of Civil War between the Republican government and fascist forces of Generalissimo Francisco Franco.
(BTW – Franco is, as of this writing, still dead 🙂
Hoping for a bold visual protest to Franco’s treachery from Spain’s most eminent artist, colleagues and representatives of the democratic government have come to Picasso’s home in Paris to ask him to paint the mural. Though his sympathies clearly lie with the new Republic, Picasso generally avoids politics – and disdains overtly political art.
For 3 months, Picasso struggles with inspiration for the mural – then on April 27th, 1937 –
unprecedented atrocities are perpetrated on behalf of Franco against the civilian population of a little Basque village in northern Spain. Chosen for bombing practice by Hitler’s burgeoning war machine, the hamlet is pounded with high-explosive and incendiary bombs for over three hours. Townspeople are cut down as they run from the crumbling buildings. Guernica burns for three days. Sixteen hundred civilians are killed or wounded.
his resulting work is displayed at the Spanish Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Paris – in the shadow of the Nazi and Soviet Pavillions .
After the Fair, Guernica tours Europe and Northern America to raise consciousness about the threat of fascism…. But…The one place it does not go is Spain. Although Picasso had always intended for the mural to be owned by the Spanish people, he refuses to allow it to travel to Spain until the country enjoys “public liberties and democratic institutions.”
On the centenary of Picasso’s birth, October 25th, 1981, Spain’s new Republic carries out the best commemoration possible: the return of Guernica to Picasso’s native soil in a testimony of national reconciliation. In its final journey, Picasso’s apocalyptic vision has served as a banner for a nation on its path toward freedom and democracy.
Last week I talked about naming the problem. Owning our emotions, reactions, feelings. Once we recognize them, claim them – they no longer control us – rather – they become fuel for our journey. Tools we can harness. We can – as my traditions scriptures say – Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The horror of the events at Guernica are overwhelming – just as the horrors of war and the gulf coast, the government’s failure, the racism and classism that has been exposed are.
Like us, Picasso could have given in to anger and hatred. Instead he created, he spoke out, he resisted.
When we allow ourselves time to rest, to reflect, to enjoy life – even in the face of horror – we tap into our humanity, our creativity, and our interconnectedness. We can grow beyond anger, fear, and sorrow – we can avoid the trap of hatred – and we can become productive. We can make a difference – we can stand up to evils like fascism and we can overcome it.
It does not happen overnight – no one action brings final victory – but our collective action does make a difference – and together we can bring change.
The key is to do what we are capable of doing, follow inspiration when it comes, and be aware of ourselves, our emotions, our energies
A Buddhist named Pema Chodron says it this way
for practitioners or spiritual warriors – people who have a certain hunger to know what is true – feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritations, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away.
The key is to be intentional – to allow what we think and feel to be without overcoming us – to harness this energy.
When we set off to “DO SOMETHING” – we are like a lumberjack with a fresh axe – but if we never stop chopping, the axe becomes dull. We have to work harder and harder with declining results.
If we stop chopping for a moment and take time to resharpen the blade – we are more effective. That is what Sabbath time is. A recognition of our natural cycle – work, play, and rest.
Mathew Fox says
The reptilian brain that we carry with in us years to be tamed and bridled. We need to give it our attention, in the process getting to know our deeper and often more violent selves, and move beyond the aggressive instincts that may have served us when we were hunters and gatherers in a hostile environment but that play havoc with our contemporary efforts at making community.
He then quotes Chodron again in a passage that speaks to me today
When the rivers and air are polluted, when families and nations are at war, when homeless wanderers fill the highways, these are the traditional signs of a dark age. Another is that people become poisoned by self-doubt and become cowards
To avoid being seen as (or thinking of ourselves as) cowards – we often resort to violence – mental, verbal, physical. But we are better than that. Violence only begets violence. An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.
Thich Nhat Hanh suggests
Mindfulness, if practiced continuously, will be strong enough to embrace your fear or anger [or sorrow] and transform it. We need not chase away evil – we can embrace and transform it in a nonviolent, nondualistic way.
Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.
Generations before us have confronted evil and facism – and they have overcome. Now it is our turn. We can draw strength from those who have fought this battle before us. We can accept that some of us will not see victory in this life. We can set aside our fear and instead harness it.
In my tradition – there is an often misunderstood passage. In Jesus teaches “turn the other cheek” Many see this as madness – as surrender, submission. We have too often been taught this is a call to be passive.
It is the reverse! It is a call to action. To dignity. To resistance! We must do something – we must respond – but not in kind. Rather than perpetuating the cycle of violence, hatred, and oppression – we are called to break it.
Something seems terribly wrong here. Turn the other cheek sounds like supine cowardice, the refusal to confront someone who is doing evil. It’s being a doormat for Jesus. It strikes many as suicidal, as an invitation to let someone wipe up the floor with us. Battered women have all too often been told by their pastors that the Bible requires them to turn the other cheek when they are being pulverized by their husbands or lovers.
Jesus couldn’t have told us not to resist evil. He always resisted it, and taught his disciples to do the same. So what is he saying? Nature has provided us with two instinctive ways to deal with violence: flight or fight. Jesus articulates a new response to evil, a third way, contrary to nature: a path of nonviolence that can end our penchant for violence. Jesus gives three examples of what he means.
_. “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” Most people probably think of a right hook here, but a right hook would hit the left cheek. A left hook would strike the right cheek, but in Jesus’ day the left hand was reserved for unclean tasks. Even to gesture with the left hand in a Semitic society would bring shame on the one doing so. The only conceivable blow would be the back of the right hand. This is not a blow to injure, but to humiliate. It was always a “one down” blow by a “superior” to an “inferior”: husband to wife, parent to child, master to servant, Roman to Jew. By turning the other cheek, the inferior is saying, “I refuse to be humiliated by you. I am a human being, a child of God. You can kill me, but my soul is out of your reach.” This reaction is light years from the passive acquiescence ascribed to Jesus all these centuries.
Amen and Hallelujah!
Sabbath Time can work for us. It is in the practice of Sabbath time that I first encountered Wink’s teaching. It is in the practice of Sabbath that I encountered the painting of Guernica. It is in the practice of Sabbath rest and intentional mindfulness that I am able to harness my anger, frustration, and sorrow and make a difference in the world.
We are not Picasso’s – but we can each do something. For example
Image of Dove from Camp Casey.
We Shall Overcome!
Thank you for reading this weeks’ Sabbath Time. I have had a chance to share some stories and ideas that inspire me and give me hope. I’d like to hear about YOUR reasons for living. What lifts you up in these troubled times – where do you find the strength to speak out, to act, to resist? We are in this together – our energies are connected and they can build on one another. Come find what you need. Namaste.