There is a clarifying breeze in Athens today. The wind gusts down the corridor of buildings that is my street, cooling the temperature and freshening the air.
I love the way the wind makes everything seem more mysterious - as if an answer to my heart's longing is ready to blow through my door. It invites me onto the balcony - taking a break from my work - to stand in the heavy breeze and listen.
BREATHE the wind seems to say. Fill your lungs with air and slow down your pulse. Let this moment - the only moment that you have - fill you up from head to toe. You are right here, right now.
It is then that I realize I've been holding my breath, my chest constricted and my heart heavy. Just minutes before, I had been reading the news of yet another global tragedy. The incredible amount of violence that has occurred in the last month - not only in the United States, but around the world - has petrified my lungs. And I am at a loss for words - literally unable to find the air to produce sound.
I return to my desk and pick up a pen. If I cannot speak, then let me write.
All kinds of emotions pour out of me and each one seems justified: grief, anger, fear. But these global events in quick succession are almost not surprising. Racism, homophobia, and the effects of religious extremism are not new realities for millions of people - who daily experience the psychological and physical violence of systemic oppression.
*why are only certain bodies justly protected by our legal systems?*
*why are only certain bodies deserving of love and sexual freedom?*
*why are only certain bodies allowed to cross international borders and have access to basic human rights?*
Whether it is about race, sexuality, gender identity, or nationality (or the intersection of all of these), these events are proof that we live in a world where only certain bodies are deemed worthy of power and equality.
But this isn't just about what's happening globally, or even in our own cities and towns. It's about the way shame infiltrates our hearts and divides us from our own bodies, creating a legacy of violence in our families, continuing across generations, strengthening the institutions that perpetuate division, and amplifying the oppression of every body.
I want to redefine the boundaries of belonging that are at the core of this violence. I don't have all the answers for how to do this - it is complicated and multi-dimensional - and each of us has our own relationship to oppression and privilege.
But I believe it begins with descending into the shadows we inherit from our families, our cultures, and our governments.
And deciding that it's no longer acceptable to teach - preach - or perpetuate these legacies of shame.
My hope is that we can and will heal - one breath at a time. And for today, that's where I will start - with my own body. Right here, right now.