Westboro Baptist, Eye-gazing + #DemsInPhilly

13730866_10209505139563111_8215086326408970150_o-4  13653124_10209505138123075_8216732469564677979_oWhy would a Christian Yogi Mama head into Philadelphia amidst the crowds of Bernie or Bust supporters carrying her hand-made sign displaying–

We are already connected

Look into my eyes and see

Well, not to face down  the infamous, vemon-spewing  cult, Westboro Baptist, that’s for certain. But when I found myself in 93 degree sweltering heat, it was nothing compared to the hellfire and damnation being shouted from the guy with the mic.  I had never seen or heard anything like this, let alone in the name of Jesus.

Smiling,  I kept my cool, looked the speaker’s sidekick in the eye and mouthed– read my sign.

His not so cool reply? “Get outta hear you fake, effin b*tch!!”

In my best Robert DeNiro from Taxi Driver impression I replied, “You talkin’ ta me?” pointing at my own chest.  His eyes were hidden behind his Maverick mirrored aviators  but his mouth continued to threaten my eternal torment in the nether regions because of my wretchedness and sinful nature.

As others willingly gazed into my eyes nearby, we held agape, peaceful space in a silent connection lasting about a minute each. It felt all the more like necessary resistance as the screaming continued right next to us.

A total of 15 strangers took me up on my somewhat odd offer, saying they’d never done anything like it before but two men had heard of the artist Marina Abramovic’s installation at MOMA a few years back.

Each participant thanked me, hugged me and found the practice quite curious as well as emotionally  moving.  My hope is to continue to offer the eye-gazings as a healing effort toward improving race relations.  In prisons, private sessions, and yoga communities I’ve witnessed intense releases and some transforming of deep pain.

On my way through my City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, I had this incredible sense of everyone’s innate beauty as I drove past all manner of humanity.  Suddenly the thought of the Westboro Baptist guy’s pain came into my heart and I imagined that he must only see us as ugly, dirty, and worthless. He must be projecting his inner demons and self-hatred onto us.

Then I wept.

As I prayed for this man to find peace in God’s redeeming love, the Holy Spirit assured me that he’d be visited and told from on HIGH to quit his hate and fear-mongering. I will never know if this actually comes to pass, but the confidence I received that our every small effort to radiate love and light is multiplied, returned my smile to my heart.

We each have the power to turn on our inner radiance and share and shine in whatever way makes us feel that interconnectedness to our fellow citizens. From this evening at the DNC–Let’s be the moral defibrillators of our time and shock the nation with the power of love, mercy & justice for all, Rev. Dr. Barber.
13731797_10209505139523110_8496187259062936313_o Or as Billy Penn said, “Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants.”  13738267_10209505138083074_3166853473012505680_o

A few friends have participated in a similar activity you can see here http://www.eyecontactexperiment.com

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