I can't recall the last time I watched the Republican National Convention, but this year I decided I need to hear firsthand what was said, instead of relying on day after reports.
Part of this decision was recalling how often there is a rallying cry to ban a specific book without first reading the book. I need to "read" this convention.
I knew, however, it would be hard to listen and watch without raising my blood pressure. I knew I would be tempted to talk back to what I was hearing, so I planned ahead. I thought about what I could do to maintain calm and be present to the speeches and commentary.
I got out my big set of colored pencils and a new coloring book, The Inspired Home, pages of home decor sketches, and settled in with PBS for the long haul.
I forced myself to keep coloring when I heard the mother of the Navy Seal who had died in the line of duty demand to see Hillary in stripes or to join in the chant "Hillary for Prison." I tried to send her compassion for her deep loss and to acknowledge the pain she feels. I kept coloring as speaker after speaker raised their voices "against" rather than "for."
I found I could listen if I focused on choosing a color and then slowly and deliberately filling in a blank space. I could listen if I didn't have to look at the speakers who seem like ordinary people, but at the same time seem to harbor such hate and fear. I admit I almost gave up during Governor Chris Christie's speech as he encouraged the crowd's response, "Lock her up," to his litany of unfactual crimes. How is that helpful? How does that "Make American Great" again?
I am grateful for the measured and insightful words, questions and historical perspectives of Judy Woodruff, Gwen Iffil, David Brooks, Amy Walter, Mark Shields, and others. And they managed to do all that without a coloring book for calming distraction.
I don't often write about current events in this blog, especially political events, and I know I risk offending some of my readers. If that is the case, I hope you will be willing to watch the Democratic National Convention from beginning to end. Coloring helps!
I am writing this on Wednesday before the evening coverage begins. I need to convince myself to stay the course. Tonight maybe I will iron, instead of color, but the intention will be the same. To listen and become informed. To send compassion when I can. To try to understand. To open to ways I can respond.
In what ways can watching the conventions be a spiritual practice? I would love to know.