Thursday, November 13, 2008

"How Have You Been... With Prop 8?"

This morning, on my way to work, I found myself counting blessings. This is, believe it or not, a very important spiritual practice, especially when facing any sort of loss or disappointment in life. I was remembering that I am not lonely. I have an amazing, funny, generous husband and a fun, energetic, smart, loving foster kid. I have a wonderful, amazing extended family who love me unconditionally -- parents, siblings, the most incredible in-laws. I recently had my annual physical, and was pronounced by my doctor to be in a state of "perfect" health, above average in every category for my age group. In a time of deepening recession, I have a stable job at a workplace where I am appreciated for my skills. My husband and I have a beautiful house and ample food and clothing. I live in a thriving neighborhood in a tolerant and diverse city. And in the ward I attend, I have a growing number of kind, smart, loving friends.

One of these friends is Sister R. She and I met for lunch today, which is becoming a custom of ours. We spent the hour swapping news about our respective families, telling the good news as well as the bad news. We talked about some of our respective child-rearing struggles, and shared insights about how to cope with certain types of situations. It was a warm, wonderful, affirming exchange.

Toward the end of our lunch, she paused. Choosing her words carefully, she said, "How have you been...?" She paused, and then continued: "...with Prop 8?"

Of all the things on my mind and heart, that was the one thing we had not discussed. I deliberately had steered myself away from that topic, choosing instead to focus on the more concrete and immediate. I didn't expect to discuss Prop 8 with a member of my ward. But the fact that she would ask that question brought balm to my soul.

Could she read the gratitude in my face? I told her simply that the news about the referendum had left me heartbroken. I told her how difficult it had been dealing with the flood of mixed feelings that it brought; the elation of seeing Barack Obama win a historic election, with all that implied for my African American husband and his family; and yet that elation being mixed with deep sadness and a feeling of me and my family being left behind. Then I shared with her the experience I had had a couple of days after the election, helping me to find peace.

I had no desire to talk about politics. I had no heart to discuss this at anything but this level, the level of feelings and responses, and what this has meant for my spiritual journey.

Sister R. listened, expressing sympathy at appropriate junctures as I spoke. She shared her impressions and recollections of the sheer happiness I had expressed after getting married last summer (which I had shared with her at a luncheon last summer after our return from Memphis). She then expressed empathy for how disappointing it must have been to have that elation followed by the Prop 8 vote.

As I told about the personal revelation I had received, assuring me that I and my family would be OK and everything would be all right, her face lit up. Then she talked about experiences she's had, where she too has had to learn to just let things go, and not worry about what she can't control.

I'm not sure how she felt about Prop 8 as a political referendum. I don't know whether she would have voted for it or against it had she lived in California. We didn't talk about that. But I was so grateful for this encounter. So grateful that she cared enough to ask that question, and to listen to me express my feelings, and to just be there for me as a friend.

I am grateful that the loving presence and support of the Spirit has enabled me to let go of my anger and resentment about this, and to let go of my expectations of how people should respond to this situation. I am grateful that that letting go has enabled me to find friendships I could not have found otherwise, to grow in ways I could not have grown otherwise, and is opening doors of love that might otherwise have stayed shut.

Gratitude is a key that unlocks so much to us. It is the antidote to so much that would otherwise corrode our souls: impatience, anger, hate.

I am grateful for this journey.

No comments: