Radical Generosity, Magic, Healing

Journey to Justice program with the UFW in Bakersfield

A program with the UFW in Bakersfield

The year so far has been about exploring what might be California’s shared narrative on health, wellness, and access to care.  And the Gift of Compassion (GoC) has done some conventional activity in pursuing what might define this narrative, speaking to a diverse cross-section of individuals.  Beyond the conversations, the GoC has engaged other means to explore the meaning of health and wellness and how one might develop a greater connection to both.  The Journey to Justice: Citizenship for All campaign showed us the power of meditation in movement.
This summer, a group of highly stressed/distressed individuals came together to address their individual and collective trauma — all arising out of their immigration status:  being Dreamers and Undocumented.  The Dreamers are young adults who have received immigration protection through the federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA);  and the undocumented are individuals who have a multitude of migration stories.  These twenty and thirty-somethings came together to ride border to border along the west coast of the U.S. continent (from Seattle to San Diego), 1700 miles, cycling for 35 days through towns and cities, rural and urban in order to build capacity to face uncertainty for themselves and their families, to educate and share stories with local people in communities across Washington state, Oregon, and California.
journey-to-justice-On the road to New Cuyama

On the road to New Cuyama

Their bodies were put to the challenge of cycling almost two thousand miles, and their minds were, as one woman described it, “….totally GONE – I was drooling, sweating, yelling at myself — ‘Why am I doing this!’ … and she was laughing all the while.  She shared in one evening’s reflection circle:  “I really have learned what it means to build my capacity to face anything, to let go of the fear and stress, and to see that I am much stronger than I ever imagined.”  Several others expressed the exact same sentiment – a generation is emerging through engagement and creativity in order to have the strength to face all of the trauma that comes with nothing more than their BEING.  This was a leadership training of a different sort.  It was also a personal and collective growth opportunity with support from caring, loving, compassionate elders who could let go of control and see what young energy could reveal about next steps in building a movement for social change and justice.  Not only was the ride fantastic, the engagement of communities, the partnership between a national Korean American group (NAKASEC) and a national African American group (Undocu-Black) was deepened, and the lessons that came were truly beyond imagination.
The conversations with community in Sacramento illuminated the notion of Radical Hospitality (experienced all throughout the ride).  There were moments of magic when a 71-year old immigrant drove his truck from LA to Fresno to deliver 120 bottles of water, Korean BBQ, and ramen noodles — then decided to drive as support all the way to San Diego.  The healing effects were visible in the energy, happiness, expressions of confidence and clarity among the riders.  Not a single rider talked about being sore, unable to continue the journey, or regret about the decision to engage.
A church service with the Lao community in Fresno

A church service with the Lao community in Fresno

What do we know about healing from chronic, sustained, undefined trauma, like being labeled an “illegal” human being?  Not much.  The outcomes can easily be imagined:  physical and mental illnesses that cannot be diagnosed as to cause and cannot be treated in conventional ways.  We are living in a time of great opportunity because there is so much uncertainty, fear, stress, and anxiety from so many different sources.
The Journey to Justice – for now, is about Citizenship for All.  But in the future, it will be about much, much more.  GoC will be there to support and sustain those who find the courage and opportunity to engage in putting their bodies and minds to the test.  Meditation happens in all forms – meditation in movement happened in the summer of 2018 from border to border.