I thought I would be crying tears of relief and joy. Instead, I sit in the dark at midnight while Ken tries to sleep, occasionally check on my remaining hopes for Hillary to win (Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania), and cry tears of grief and fear in between the bouts of seemingly calm shock. I’ve asked dozens of times, “How could this have happened?” after months of carefully following data on the presidential race, the country’s changing demographics, and my own clear-as-a-ringing-bell sense that all would be well. How could they be wrong? How could I be wrong? How could America be wrong?
Tonight Ken and I gathered with friends to watch the election results over a lovely dinner. As we switched channels, watching one set of pundits and reporters or another — all trying to fill in the gaps between state results with speculation about why, what, and who — I felt like my whole digestive tract was ready to leave my body. I felt my chest tightening, and my hope and faith melting on the floor in a faraway room. Our friends, Ken and I looked at each other, all our eyes sad. It was time to remember a vast reality right outside the door.
So we bundled up and headed out into the dark, cold air, walking across broken and buckling sidewalks somewhat hidden by leaves, the almost-half moon over our right shoulders. We talked of course of potential horrors in between shutters of is-this-happening heartbreak. Then we went to the wishing bench.
Located in east Lawrence, the wishing bench has a sign that says, “Please make a wish. You will not be disappointed.” It’s festooned with ribbons and crocheted pieces, poems and coins, and whatever people bring and leave to it, sometimes Santa Claus, sometimes streamers or wind chimes. I have, especially with the one of the friends there with me tonight, made many wishes here, and we’ve never been disappointed.
The four of us wedged together to called out “Wisconsin! Michigan! Pennsylvania!”, pray, wish, asked America to get it together, and even sing a song usually sung for someone needing healing: “America be well/ America be well/ All manner of being is well….”
Walking back, facing the moon, all I could think beyond the spinning script of election results and associated terror, is that the moon is still the moon. The sun is still the sun. The air, first hard frost expected tonight, is still the air. The ground — the very ground where I will soon plant dozens of irises, daffodils, hyacinths, even some peonies — is still the ground.
Now in our bedroom, safe from the elements and occupied by sleeping animals of several kinds, I light a candle in a blue glass holder painted with a woman standing in tree pose, her arms and branches reaching out in the dark toward something. I read the quote on my zen calendar, this one by Zora Neal Hurston: “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” Our year has just turned although I can’t yet see the questions we’ll be asking or what those questions will be asking of us, breath by breath. Meanwhile, no matter the outcome, I ask the wishing bench not to disappoint, our bench here, and wherever you can sit for a moment in your life and wish with all your tenderness and fierceness, gratitude and woundedness.
May all manner of beings be well within and beyond this beautiful, divided, vibrant, broken and promised land. May we walk or roll together to do the good work ahead and grow our capacity for love. May we never feel alone under this sky where we share the same moon.