Yesterday Massachusetts elected a Republican senator, something considered unthinkable in this liberal state, a state that hasn't sent a Republican to the senate in decades. Fingers of blame for the upset point to the democratic candidate, the national agenda, the economic unrest, unemployment, foreclosures, another war, -- mold, mildew, midlife crisis, and a truck. The truck belongs to the Republican senator elect.**********
If you're transformed, when you're transformed by a religious experience, a meeting with a guru, a book that spins your reality upside down, the usual responses prove inadequate. Facile transformations alter nothing. **********
Transformation brings ruts and boulders into the path. How do I respond? Do I wrestle with my decisions? Do I allow for seismic shifts in perspective? Do I recalculate, reformulate, and allow for a revision of old paradigms? Do I perceive the stranger as other or as someone whose humanity and personhood is equal to mine? Do I see the person behind the facade or do I succumb to the narrow confines of my own alleyways?**********
Transformation isn't cheap. It's costly. It's hard. It requires diligence and a willingness to fall flat and stand up again. Too many people speak about being transformed, seeing the light, and then move forward — a bulldozer wiping out the boulders and mountains. They don't stop to question anything. They refuse to recognize the beauty of the granite boulder, or the straggly grass, or the terrain. The journey must continue even when blinders cover the void. The void isn't an empty place. It's a crossroad, a stop, a chance to try out that transformation and test it's reality, a chance to shift perspective, a chance to try out new words, a chance to be transformed.************
I remember attending a concert at Carnegie Hall and then eating dinner in cheap cafeteria. Two teenagers, enamored with our day out. After “dining” on a tuna sandwich and limpid salad we used the ladies room. A bag lady stood by the sink with a washcloth, her belongings in a bag on the floor.
First, she soaked the washcloth, applied some of the dispenser soap and washed her neck and face, scrubbing her neck and ears until red. While I washed my hands, she unlaced her shoe, took it off and then removed a black sock. She lifted her foot up, held onto the sink, and swayed a bit, turned on the water and said, "The water's off at my house. So maybe I can soak my foot here. I got bunions. Ever had a bunion? "
Her words accompanied by a stale aroma drifted down to my sink.
"No." I said.
A woman entered the bathroom.
"You ever have a bunion?"
"My apartment has a water problem."
Then this woman, probably middle aged, probably worked, probably had an apartment and probably had somewhere to go, walked over to the woman at the sink. The woman held her washcloth and foot in the palm of one hand.
"Maybe," she said, I'll soak my foot for a bit if you don't mind."
I'm standing there watching like it's a Saturday afternoon movie at the Mt. Eden Theater.
This middle-aged woman walked over to the sink.
"I'll steady you," she said, "so you can reach the sink and soak your foot. That bunion looks angry. "
That old bag lady, acted like a boulder in the way of someone's path. At that time I didn't want to get too close to her.***********
Back to Massachusetts and an upset. Last year President Obama made a host of promises—transparency was one promise. This past year, in his urgency to get his agenda passed, he bypassed transparency; the democrats bought votes by promising individuals special perks. A bulldozer screamed down the path.
No one listened to the frustration. Too many people had bunions and the democrats did what I did—watch.