Healing Anywhere is Healing Everywhere

(Talk given by gina Breedlove at Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton, CA)

Only now, and it’s been months, can I talk about Rwanda without completely losing my composure.

I did not want to go. I sit on the Board of Wisdom & Money and our Board talked about going to Rwanda. My position was that I do not need to go to Rwanda to see pain and grief and strife. I can take you to Brooklyn, where I am from. I can take you down south to some of the poorest communities where some of the most horrific things happened, particularly to black women and girls, daily. I don’t need to go to Rwanda. That was my position. My binary brain self said, “No we have things going on right here in America.”

And then I did what I do: I put it on my altar and I prayed about it and I woke up the next morning knowing that I had to go — that it was mine to do. I am in a practice to be a good steward and heed the Word and so I did not question it.

I had heard about Rwanda in the 1990’s and read about it and I was not prepared. We went to the genocide museum on the first full day and I was completely devastated. I am a mom and there is a whole room dedicated to children who were killed because if you want to destroy a people you destroy their children to ensure there will be no more generations. I was incapable of holding what I was seeing.

I know that it is my duty to bring what I saw — the sense of what is possible, the knowing of what is possible — to share in community the power of love.

Then the day of the retreat came and the attendees started to arrive. When I met the folk who actually lived through it and felt the energy and the relationships, I really short circuited. I could not believe it. It was so incredible – the joy, the love, the camaraderie, the sense of family and the real commitment to be in this practice of healing and reconciliation. I thought I understood what reconciliation meant. To say that my life is changed feels like such a small sentence. Profoundly I am different. I received a transmission in Rwanda that I am still trying to understand.

I do healing work in the world and I work with circles of folk, particularly young folk, and I know that it is my duty to bring what I saw — the sense of what is possible, the knowing of what is possible — to share in community the power of love. The power of love.

Meeting Reverend Philbert and being in circle with him and being a part of the retreat team and watching him very matter of factly point out who was who with ease. It was very loving and warm and familiar and expected – like there is no surprise we are doing this work. Of course we are doing this work. God told me we were going to be doing this work. I was deeply impressed by brother Philbert.

Here I am back in the States with all that is happening here, seeing the extreme normalization of hate speech and how things happen and can happen, knowing that I can do something about it. I can do something about it. Rwanda did that for me.

Jean-Claude and Claudette. I held a sound healing circle, which is, briefly, guiding folk to the sound of their voice, which I know is medicine to move grief and rage through the body. There are ways in which we plant things in each other – not just what I say about you, but what I think about you — because everything is energy. Jean-Claude and Claudette sat in the center of the circle and I stood between them. They both shared their testimony and the love between them was palpable. Claudette did share that it took some time. When she saw Jean-Claude approaching her home for the first time she closed her blinds and pretended she was not home. And he was persistent. He was persistent. Gradually and with the help and support of REACH she was able to receive him and talk to him. And now, when she is not feeling well, because she did sustain deep injuries that will be with her for the rest of her life, she will pick up the phone and Jean-Claude will go with his wife to care for her.

Here I am back in the States with all that is happening here, seeing the extreme normalization of hate speech and how things happen and can happen, knowing that I can do something about it. I can do something about it. Rwanda did that for me. Rwanda showed me that the impossible is possible. Particularly as a mother, forgiving someone who harmed your family and not only forgiving them, but also seeking to bring them inside of your community and make them part of your family. As person after person shared, if I did not do this, I could not be well.

There is so much more. I think of Rwanda often. My daily practice is how to bring this into my work and embody it.

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