Let me get the obvious out of the way – Marianne Williamson will not be President of the United States. She will not be the Democratic nominee. Period. So let’s all relax.
That said, it doesn’t mean there’s not plenty to unpack here.
Every day I wear a silver band ring on my right hand. On it are these words:
She leaves the rest to God
This is primarily because of what I learned from reading the work of Marianne Williamson and seeing her speak roughly five times in New York City. In her book A Return to Love, Williamson writes about the importance of surrender. It’s either that, she says, or we can “grab and clutch and manipulate.” She likens it to opening the oven door when the bread is trying to bake. Trust the oven to do its job. That’s thoughtful and it spoke to the control freak in me.
While many of us have a world view, Williamson has a universal one. She is not about a Band-Aid on your stubbed toe; she is more likely going to cycle back and look at what circumstances or forces led to ground meeting toe in just that way and what it means big picture and if the stubbed toe experience has served you as a human being somehow.
This is why we heard what we heard from her in the CNN Democratic Debate last night. She was surrounded by people – any of whom I’d vote for — she sees as armed with Band-Aids and she wants to fix the sidewalk and make sure the anatomy of your toe doesn’t need addressing. And she’s not opposed to ripping up a city block or two if necessary.
“If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this President is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days,” Williamson said.
Is she wrong?
Look, we’re set up for pragmatism. Our politics, our government, all of it. Our candidates set out policies. We argue over who is most charming or presidential. It’s what we do. It’s how it works. It’s mostly an intellectual exercise. Williamson is not going to be able to come in and blow that up and start us anew, even though we’re clearly in crisis mode. But if a few of her insights seeped — or even charged – into our national consciousness because she’s been on that debate stage twice, that’s a win.
She has an advantage over the other candidates in one important sense – she can be truly unfettered because realistically she won’t be the candidate left standing. She might disagree with that, but we know it is so. This means she can say things about reparations and problems at the border with little to no risk. It’s unlikely to show up in opposition ads because she won’t be the opposition.
Back in the summer of 2016 during the presidential campaign, I watched a livestream of Williamson speaking at Marble Collegiate Church in New York. It was more impassioned than I’d ever seen her. I wrote about it in a column, noting I had the Bible next to me turned to Isaiah chapter 58. Here’s what I wrote:
After the minister on the pulpit prior to Williamson read Isaiah beginning with verse 6 and spoke of being the “repairer of the breach” in these stormy political times, Williamson came to the microphone and said she’d like to go back to verse 1:
Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Williamson railed about complacency. She spoke of how other nations were asking, “What are Americans thinking?” and then said forcefully, “It ain’t midnight yet.” We still have time to right this. “When we do, we slam it like nobody’s business.” And finally a clarion call, “Come on, America, wake up.”
This is exactly how I see her role in the 2020 election. She’s been sent to wake up even the most well-intended among us. And yes, that means some of the people on that stage last night. Spell out those policies, but dig a little deeper. Look at what’s ailing us, but from the root. See us. Trump is an unfortunate growth that sprouted from tainted soil. What is his rise telling us? We send him packing and then what?
Williamson’s strength is in the spiritual. If social media is any indication, it clearly comes off like hooey to some and that’s their prerogative. I believe there are many ways to God and of course none if you so choose. My way is to keep bringing in information. Starting in 2002, in the wake of the Catholic priest scandal, I went on a church shopping expedition because I realized I had no idea what was out there.
After some more traditional options, I found myself enthusiastically on the New Thought track. Here’s how Wikipedia defines it: The contemporary New Thought movement is a loosely allied group of religious denominations, authors, philosophers, and individuals who share a set of beliefs concerning metaphysics, positive thinking, the law of attraction, healing, life force, creative visualization and personal power.
Once I took it all in, kept some and discarded some, what shook out was me squarely in the ‘spiritual but not religious’ category. I can connect with my Great Creator anywhere – a church, a park bench, in my writing. You get the idea. I consider people like Williamson teachers. It’s up to me to learn or not, believe or dismiss.
I first read A Return to Love in 2005. One day while at the Hoboken waterfront on a gray day, I thought of a passage from the book and later blogged about it. Williamson writes:
spiritual teacher from India once pointed out that there is no such thing as a
gray sky. The sky is always blue. Sometimes, however, gray clouds come and
cover the blue sky. We then think the sky is gray. It is the same with our
minds. We’re always perfect. We can’t not be. Our fearful patterns, our
dysfunctional habits, take hold within our minds and cover our perfection.
Temporarily. That is all … There has never been a storm that hasn’t passed.
Gray clouds never last forever. The blue sky does.
Might I suggest that this is the way to ingest Marianne Williamson? We needn’t be melodramatic about it.
She wants us to love each other more. Oh, the horror.