The outcome of yesterday’s US presidential election has left some of my dear ones with the same kinds of feelings they had after the 9/11 attacks – shock, fear and grief.
People I know are dealing with this in many ways. I have heard of people drinking wine, baking cookies, picking up their usual work routine, reading about the election on the internet, giving gifts to people, going outside for walks and trying to stay grounded. How are you coping? What helps you?
This morning I coped by going outside and working in the yard. Vigorous outdoor work gives me an outlet for my grief and fear. Three ways in which my outdoor labors help me deal with the election outcome include:
- Aerobic exercise: raking leaves, shoveling chips and pushing around a heavy wheelbarrow.
2. Aromatherapy: breathing in the powerful scent of the fresh hemlock wood chips that were delivered earlier this week.
3. Receiving the peace of wild things as I commune with plants and birds, sky and soil. Wendell Berry’s often quoted poem is worth remembering:
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
I look to two other responses to help me through this time, and I invite you to join me in:
4. Connecting with loved ones – friends and family – for hugs, listening, asking how each other are doing. We need each other to get through this. Smiling at strangers on the street. Performing acts of kindness and compassion and generosity.
5. Seeking comfort and courage from spiritual traditions and communities. There’s help out there for just such times as this. Tonight there will be a Prayer Vigil at my church in Amherst to which all are invited:
Sometimes even the simple life brings us reverses and difficulties. But together, we can find ways to cope and come through to the other side. May it be so.