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  • Monique Sliedrecht

Exposure



I'm always amazed when the moon comes out on a clear night in Caithness. It suddenly brings out the shapes and details of the landscape that are usually indecipherable when the moon is absent.


In the current situation it may seem tempting or easy to hide in the isolation. The challenge of managing our thoughts through the intense circumstances can be tricky, occasionally leading to paranoia, upset, obsessions…. and it feels like there is no chance of escape. And well, there isn't really. We are suddenly being brought to the shadow side of ourselves. We must live with our foibles and face them square in the eye. Instead of a time of ‘retreat’, in many ways this is a time of exposure. As one friend put it ‘lockdown has been a personal crucible’ to many. 'Crucible' seems a right word for all the painful issues so many of us have entered without our usual exit routes.

While perhaps convincing ourselves we are hidden at this time, there turns out to be a different kind of exposure, and we are feeling the openness of the landscape in our hearts and minds and some things start to show up, even if only as a mirror to ourselves.


'The sun sees your body, the moon sees your soul.'


There is a lot of talk about people drinking more, eating more, consuming unhealthy sugars and fatty, salty foods as a means of comfort, using stimulants to calm the nerves and other worries associated with the pandemic, or to ease the loneliness we feel.

But what if we took this time as an opportunity?


At the right moment, we can decide to work through, rather than around, and step into the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, perhaps using art as a means to express and share.


What dominates this time for you? What has given you pause for thought? And better yet, what thoughts will turn to action?


I believe without the context of this lockdown we would not take time to consider how we might act in the anti-racist movement, and take intentional steps towards a more just world.


This moment of pandemic and lockdown has opened up a gift of time and space — time to think, observe, discuss, to really sift through what we believe and hold onto, and determine what we should let go of. It has certainly done that for me.


That cannot be a bad thing.


The spotlight on racism in our world hits home for me, as it does for many of us in different ways. I’ve been talking via chat with my family a lot more lately which has been a direct result of the lockdown. Recently, some of my siblings have been grappling with how to address the subject of racism with their children. I have a nephew and 3 nieces who are black. They, along with my brother, sister-in-law, and their 3 other white children are currently in Michigan and when not in lockdown, for a good part of the year, they are living and working in Uganda. There really is no choice but for them to talk to their children about racism. The question is ‘how?’



My sister-in-law recently wrote to us:

‘I hate that we have to talk to our kids about these things. How do we prepare them for the racism they will (already have) encountered and yet not live in fear. Why do I have to teach Moses to not walk around with his hood on when wearing a hoodie? Why were we told when we adopted Avalien that everyone will think she is adorable until she reaches the age of dating and a sweet, white boy wants to ask her out and suddenly his parents no longer think Avalien is very adorable? Why do my kid’s wonder why no band-aids/plasters match their skin? Or why there is only 1 brown baby in the baby doll aisle full of white dolls at the store. ‘


Why indeed.


White privilege shows up in many different ways.


Racism is so utterly pervasive, most of us cannot see that it exists — especially in ourselves. And when we are willing to see it, it’s uncomfortable as hell. Being uncomfortable is necessary if any of us want to grow and change.


The moon sees your soul.

There is a time to recognise and acknowledge. Rather than letting the shame get on top of us, or allowing ourselves to hide or lurk in the shadows of our guilt, maybe it is time to step out in whatever ways we can in the current circumstances.


We’re going through a dark period of isolation and stark realisation… Perhaps without the darkness and isolation there would not be the realisation, the facing of ourselves, the light of the moon to our very souls.


But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.

― Martin Luther King, Jr.



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© 2020 Monique Sliedrecht