the practice of hope: reminders on how to be (or, contemplative practices against capitalism)

the practice of hope: reminders on how to be (or, contemplative practices against capitalism)

by Céline Chuang October 24, 2019 1 Comment

Make: things yourself, people laugh, love to yourself and/or others, nourishing friendships, art, jam, soup.


Take: time to simply be. Cultivate a meditation practice, a way to attend to yourself. Carve out regular space for stillness. Was it Beethoven who said the rests—the delineated silence in the score—is where the music happens? So much of the time, you crave rest but push yourself until the notes blur into noise. Resist the urge to always be productive. Repeat after me: you have all the time in the world. You have all the time in the world. Reiterate until the words are a familiar taste on your tongue, until the mantra sinks into your bones, until it becomes true. Capitalism dictates commodification, tells you your worth is defined by your efficiency and contribution, and this infiltrates work, home, social justice and movement spaces, churches, non-profits, your own body. Releasing this myth takes time. So take time.


Share: meals, music, resources, festivities. Create alternative economies based on generosity and care. Sit on front porches. Grant public space your sacred attention, for it is where you encounter the Divine in strangers—parks, libraries, bus stops, free Craigslist. Await everyday moments that hold sudden flares of beauty, and let that beauty soothe you as balm. Hope, like love, is not merely a feeling but a practice.


Divest: from single stories, invulnerability, social media omnipresence, banks and corporations, plastic, patriarchal gender norms, individualism. Partake in the difficult and continuous process of removing yourself from systems that harm you and others and the world.


Reconnect: with pre-wounded ancestors, with ancient and embodied traditions: incense, alters, your own holy hybrid rituals both created and inherited. Get your hands in the dirt every once in a while, or more often. Grow your own food if you can. Honour the land beyond acknowledgement: listen to its voice, uphold the leadership of Indigenous Elders and knowledge-keepers, fight for its protection. Reconnect with that marvelous and imperfect and complicated body of yours. Listen to what it is telling you, with all its pains and ambivalences and pleasures. Befriend its roundness, scars, softness, strength. Make it sweat sometimes, make it feel good when you can.


Breathe: deep and slow, in and out, again and again. Sometimes this is all you can do. All you can do is enough.


Question: narratives of power and control. Disarm capitalist myths like meritocracy and scarcity, question stories of supremacy like whiteness and terra nullius and the bordered nation-state. Question why, and when. Question also what if. Question instead. Consider nonlinear time and the poetry of quantum mechanics, how at our most minute we are comprised not even of particles but of possibilities: waves, strings, multiple universes. Remember Rilke’s line about eternally, indefinitely circling the ancient tower of God. Consider the bees: the miracle of flight, the awe of pollination and labour and devotion, the sweetness of honey excavated from African tombs thousands of years old. Believe in abundance. Begin another world: here, today, and again tomorrow, until it becomes true. 


Feast: well, and often. Eat more vegetables. Wonder at each in your hand: the spirals of the carrot, the buttery garlic, the gorgeous beet, the indomitable kale. Share food and tables with those around you, especially those who lack access to good food, fresh produce, or company. From familial and cultural memory, embrace food as love language. From the table grace of socialist Methodist J. S. Wordsworth, let us give thanks for the food before us; may what we desire for ourselves, we wish for all and to this end, take our share in the world's work and world's struggles. From the Qur'an, feed the poor, orphan and captive, seeking no reward or thanks. From the Indigenous matriarchs on the front line serving bannock and stew, extol food as part of resistance and ceremony. From the way of Christ, eat breakfast on the beach, invite the uninvited to the banquet and elevate them to a place of honour.


Lament: as survival skill, as a way to grieve collectively, as prophetic action. Light candles, forge liturgies, march in public, honour the sacrament of tears.


Unplug: regularly. There are tools and even apps for this. Put your device down. Leave it at home sometimes. Start Screenless Saturdays, or a similar practice. Read books in sunlight; notice moonlight. Allow the seasons to shape you. Carl Sagan: For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.


Play: with children, an instrument, a hymn, folk song, fairy tale. Dance undignified and dance free, especially all of you queerly beloved. The world can be a shitty and scary place but Lizzo is making music for such a time as this. Delight, indulge, imagine. Joy is a muscle; flex it. Celebrate the community you want to build, the world you want to see. As Pádraig Ò Tuama says, prayer is whatever works. Amen, until it becomes true.

 

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Acknowledgments: This piece acknowledges a nexus of influences, including artists Nikki McClure, Molly Costello, and Rayo & Honey, writer adrienne marie brown, and the organizers of The Mystic Soul Project. “The practice of hope” comes from a Tweet by Harsha Walia.

 

 

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Did you miss Everyone Else's Emergency? 

 

 

 

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash




Céline Chuang
Céline Chuang

Author

Céline Chuang lives and works on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territory (Vancouver, Canada). A diasporic settler and daughter of Chinese-Canadian immigrants, her familial migration story crosses water four times in three generations. Her writing has appeared in Ricepaper, Geez Magazine, and the Salt Collective, and most recently in Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization (Mennonite Church Canada). Handles: Twitter: @celinechuang Instagram: @celinebythesea



1 Response

Rachael
Rachael

October 28, 2019

stunning. bookmarking for difficult and lost days. thank you.

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