It is Gandhi who eases my heart and reminds me (again) how we give love to the one who gives face to the greatest pain.
‘There is a story of Gandhi that reveals how profound and daring his sense of compassion was. It occurred during one of his famous hunger strikes. A man whose daughter was killed came in anguish, saying to Gandhi that he would stop fighting if the great soul would eat. But Gandhi knew the healing was deeper than just stopping the violence, and so he told the man he would eat only when the tormented father embraced the man who killed his daughter.
It is said that the man collapsed in tears, but did as Gandhi asked, and the larger conflict ended. This is an enormous thing to ask of someone in grief, of someone who has been violated. But beyond the vast courage needed to incorporate this kind of love into our daily lives, Gandhi’s request reveals the irrefutable wisdom that only when the broken are healed, no mater what they have done, will we as people heal.’
[Mark Nepo, The book of Awakening, p. 179]
Taliesin Namkai-Meche, 23, was my son’s friend at Reed College in Portland. Taliesin was a year older than my son, William; my son graduated just a few weeks ago. Taliesin’s girlfriend, Ellie, is a friend of our family’s. When my son first learned one of the victim’s in the Portland massacre was his friend he cried, “No. Not Taliesin.” He is crushed. And Ellie, broken.
When the the hate-filled and mis-guided man was arraigned in a Portland court and his outbursts recorded, I felt my heart harden. ‘Hate’ is a word that was not allowed to be spoken in our little family. My son and daughter were encouraged to find a different word, or express their thoughts in another way. The hate I was feeling surprised and confused me. When I first looked upon the face that could cause so much pain and alter so many lives for false ideology, I tried at that moment to understand what could have happened in his life to cause him to violently take the lives of two beautiful beings, gravely injure a third, and force two young girls to process this horrific event over the course of their lives. My son could not look upon his face.
Then, the hatred I felt for him, and for all in our country who have been given a fast lane to expose their bigoted and racist vitriol, began to manifest. This event, for me, is the final culmination of a depleting and damaging presidential campaign, and the subsequent reality of living in a country so divided and angry that I do not see a path forward under any peripheral leadership.
Guided by Universal grace I was reminded of Gandhi’s story, and my heart began to release the awful hate.
Taliesen, Rick Best, and Micah Fletcher stood up to hate and violence. They were brave and altruistic in motive and heart. They are true patriots, and what I believe America to be, or has the potential to be. We, too, as a nation, are broken. To heal, we must help and embrace, show kindness and compassion, interpersonally, and in our communities, every day. Every. Single. Day.
Taliesin and Ellie spent their last hours together working in their garden and sharing dinner in Taliesin’s new home. He created a community space for Ellie and their friends. He wanted to marry and have children. Together they hoped to plant a ‘Bleeding Heart’ bush, the one with the tiny heart-shaped flowers.
The fall-out from this tragedy has altered my own personal trajectory. I will not permit these deaths to be senseless, only a constant reminder of, as favorite professor Dr. David Peat reminded me, Infinite Potential. The potential of one love, one mind, one body, one spirit.
Thank you, Taliesin. For being a tender friend to my son, for reminding me in your transition the tremendous infinite possibility of kindness, compassion, and love.
My son and I toasted you the evening before he left for his own life’s potential.Here’s to you, sweet Taliesin. We will always feel your light, your grace, your gift, and your love.
“I see more clearly than ever before that my Divine birthright is freedom, peace, joy, and eternal goodness. I perceive that this same birthright is bequeathed to all people. This power I use for my own and every other person’s good.”
[Science of Mind]