“It’s resignation”, he said. “What I feel as a Black man living in modern-day America.” I let these words hang in the air and slowly make their way down to the path we walked upon. The sound of dry, crispy leaves underfoot making it harder to hear his words across the distance that the pandemic imposed upon us. My heart felt the weight of those words, of his in-the-moment reflection, of years and generations of experiencing the constrictions that white supremacy and patriarchy create for the human spirit. I wanted to hold him tight and let the beating of our hearts remind him that he is not alone on this journey. I wanted him to feel the strength of my love. Instead, I just listened.
We talked about what it means to really know yourself, and if it is actually possible to truly know another human being. Of what it means to feel at home, and what it takes to listen to and heed to the needs of our souls. Of the discernment that is required to distinguish between a real need and a want, the incessant never-enoughness, striving-for-something-else that saturates our society.
All of this was a byproduct of a group conversation we had in early December with our compañera in joy and struggle, Beatriz Beckford. She helped us to create a space where we could share with each other glimpses and glimmers of who we are, of what supports our thriving and what inhibits our growth. The seemingly simple prompts that she offered us created ripple effects in our hearts and in our connections with each other that we are still discovering. This conversation was but one of the side-effects of the medicine we received in that two-day gathering.
It’s been almost two months since that initial conversation took place, and I can’t say that I have any clear answers to the questions that were sparked, but I am moving closer to being at peace with the not knowing. It’s taken me 9 years of being in relationship with the founding members of Earthseed Land Collective, and 4.5 years of living on this land to realize that we are just now beginning to really know each other.
It brings me back to the importance of our mission statement, and it’s abiding wisdom that will bolster (and perhaps haunt us) for years and decades to come: remember and reimagine our relationship to ourselves, each other and the land in pursuit and practice of collective liberation.
This has not been and will not be a linear journey. This work of letting people into our hearts, being vulnerable, disclosing our hurt spots and growing edges is challenging (to say the least). I am learning that building beloved community is not for the faint of heart, and that it requires a daily recommitment to our greater work and an ability to check our egos when they start to get in the way of our growth. Yet the gift of this hard work is immeasurable: the ability to connect deeply to another human being, to be supported and loved along this treacherous path called life, and if we’re lucky, to get to witness the unfurling of our spirits.
May we all move closer to experiencing and witnessing the unfurling of our own and each other’s spirits.