A Prayer for the Season and Beyond

Last year I created a mandala in response to what seemed to me the inhumanity and lack of compassion emerging from the newly elected American administration.
 
This year I find myself struggling against despair. I don’t understand how we’ve gotten so muddled. What happened to  “Neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female”? “Let justice roll like a river”? or  “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly”?
 
Here again is that mandala, in hope that the incomprehensibly deep love we celebrate at this season may fill all our hearts, and open our eyes to the wideness of the mercy encompassing the whole of           Creation.
For those of you who are curious about such things, the basic             pattern is taken from the south rose window of Notre Dame, with hundreds of layers of digital images underneath and overlapped.
An image with higher resolution is available is available @                http://clfrancisco.com.
May this season when the light returns be one of joy and hope for us all.

A Season of Violence

In the months since I decided to withdraw Blood on Holy Ground, I’ve never stopped examining that decision. I may yet change my mind. More than anything else, I’d hoped to avoid contributing to the            climate of violence in America–against women, against racial and      religious groups, against the LGBT community, even against white males. A mystery novel dealing with sexual violence suddenly seemed inappropriate.

But things have changed. With the rapid spread of the #metoo       phenomenon, public reports of sexual abuse have overwhelmed the media. For the first time, thousands of people are speaking out about the sexual violence they’ve suffered, and they’re finding healing in sharing their stories. Anger is also part of breaking that long     silence–and a natural and healthy response to abuse. Releasing this anger is so crucial that people who can’t manage it almost inevitably find themselves sharing their inner space with emotional volcanoes –vents of fury that blight their own lives as well as searing those around them. Yet even those who confront their anger face a further danger: addiction to the rush that rides on “righteous” rage. Instead of  bringing healing, endless rage only traps its victims in mazes of  bitterness.

Sadly, publicity has also brought complications. The sudden flood of abuse narratives is rocking the boat of American business-as-usual. Anger flares on all sides. Spurious accounts find their way in. People rationalize and whitewash their own actions and demonize others. Decency, compassion, and concern for human rights struggle to hold their own against riptides of emotion. The whole issue shows signs of deteriorating into a political firefight. Human pain is swept aside. Ethics blur in the media blitz. A screen of empty chatter dulls the     reality of human cruelty.

So I’ve created a short video in which I speak as a woman, but with the words of trees . . . of forests who for thousands of years have suffered assault . . . yet who continue to offer new life and seeds for the future. Perhaps my images will slip past some of the barricades.      After all, trees bear no more blame for their felling than a child bears for her abuse. If I tell a story of trees, raw human emotions may fade into the distance. Woodland tragedy may allow space for compassion and understanding. Perhaps, in the company of trees, we can even remember our humanity, and find healing together.

The video’s  title is Women’s Abuse Through a Forest Lens: #Metoo in the Voice of Trees. You can find it here.

For those of you who don’t care for videos, I’ve reproduced the images and words below, but without the soundtrack.

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