Every election day I see a smaller than usual turn-out for my Tuesday night class, what with people’s time and attention so taken up with the political process at hand. In the historic election of 2008, I decided the best way to get any turn-out at all would be to hold an after-voting event aimed at envisioning healing for our world and its leaders.
But as class was about to start, I was distracted and agitated. I wished I had just cancelled for the evening, because all I wanted was to glue myself to a TV and watch as results trickle in. We were all tense, still in that early hour when just two states had been called: one blue, one red. My small group of five, a bit reluctantly, tore ourselves away from the radio that had been tuned to a news station and refocused our attention on the healing work set for the evening.
A little later, still in the mellow afterglow of spiritual healing, I came up with an exercise just for fun. I asked everyone to write the names of two wise and well-known leaders from the past on separate 3×5 cards and throw them face down into the center of our circle without sharing what we wrote. When we had a pile of cards representing various history makers of the past, we chose five of them, one at a time. We let each leader "speak" to us by using our intuitive minds to imagine what they’d say. The experience that followed took us beyond the interesting exercise we expected into the territory of goose bumps and tingles. It became even more meaningful in the hours after the election.
Here are some of our "conversations with wisdom" that night.
The first card turned over was John F. Kennedy. He spoke to us about seeds of change planted in the 60s that seemed to disappear for a while but had actually been germinating in the collective consciousness and now are ready to reappear, with lasting strength this time.
The second card was Jesus, who spoke of everyone needing to become a leader. He said this is why Barack Obama has been so quickly propelled to the position of president. He is one who leads by empowering everyone and, collectively, we are now ready for this.
The next card turned over was Martin Luther King, Jr. At first, he appeared so overcome by emotion that he just wordlessly shared his tears of joy. But, being a man of such powerful words, the speaking soon followed. He said Barack Obama is a "bridge," that this soul chose the unusually diverse circumstances of his early life as preparation for playing this important role for the world. His purpose is not just to bridge the divide between races or political parties. He is here to bring the world together, bridging separateness of all sorts, and to demonstrate the greater power of love over fear.
As we all let the impact of these words sink in, we decided to move on to another voice. The next card picked was…Martin Luther King, Jr., again! We jokingly apologized for moving on before the honored Doctor was finished, and let him "speak" once more.
This time he emphasized how Obama can’t do it alone. Everyone is called to a new level of involvement and service. There must be more mass demonstrations of peaceful cooperation. He said the huge turnout to vote was one such demonstration and more are needed. He spoke of a new resurgence of patriotism; that patriotism has in recent years been commandeered by a small group in service to fear-based agendas. Now patriotism will be something different – a love of country rooted in love of humanity and in service. Rather than defending what we love against the rest of the world, the new patriotism would seek to reach out in love to the world around us. He said that our new national "defense" program will be an offering of aid and education to the people of the world, which will quite naturally disempower dangerous governments.
After this rather long message, we decided to turn over another card to hear one last voice. When the next card was revealed, we all seemed to catch our breath in synch as it once again showed the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By now we felt there was no coincidence in play, that this wise soul is profoundly involved in the historic events of the evening. In his last message to us he gave reassurance – a reassurance we didn’t realize how much we needed until it was given – that this one, Obama, would not need to sacrifice himself as many who preceded him did (at which point we all connected the dots: J.F.K., Jesus, Dr. King…all killed for their service). Not to worry, the need for this kind of pain was over.
I left class that night deeply grateful to have been exactly where I was instead of anxiously fixed on my television. And later, I watched on TV the many tearful faces overcome with joy, just as Dr. King first appeared to us. I saw his daughter speak eloquently of Barack Obama as a "bridge," echoing with eerie precision her father’s words. I watched the predicted president elect, Obama, so gracefully reach across party lines to recognize the importance of each of us and to ask for everyone’s help.
Then I, who have never felt patriotic in my life, who even thought patriotism to be too divisive a sentiment for a world so in need of common ground, felt a wave of pride and love for my country unlike anything I’ve ever known before.