Despite being in the midst of the “lazy days of summer,” we don’t have the hammock up in our beautiful backyard. With the temperatures already around 85 degrees at 5 am, there’s no time it’s really cool enough to enjoy it. Plus, the strong summer sun would rot the hammock. (I’ve heard that Arizona law even limits warranties because of the strength of the sun!) Therefore, about a month ago, we put our hammock away for the summer. Yes, I know, most folks put their hammocks away for the winter. Life is just different here in the desert.
But while I’m missing my hammock, memories of spending time on it this spring have boosted my mood and brought me some peace during challenging times. There’s something for me about hanging in space—midway between heaven and earth, as it were—that allows me to relax and my mind to slow down.
In my recent spiritual directors’ peer supervision group meeting, this month’s convener shared a reading from Kabir about being suspended between the inner and outer worlds. The idea of a human being as a space where inner and outer worlds meet—that feels like the perfect place to hang a hammock and spend time to gain some needed wisdom.
There’s also something in the hammock metaphor about balance. Most hammocks are only tethered at two points, making them easy to flip. We can relax, but we also need to be aware that sudden or unwary movements can upset that balance and send us flipping onto the ground.
So, while hammocks are (mostly) for relaxation, they also require some level of awareness. Life is like that, too. I think about some of what I’m reading about systemic racism in America. So many of my fellow humans cannot easily relax outside of the safety of their homes (and sometimes even there). They have to be aware of their surroundings and the people in them. They must be on guard against subtle or overt actions and interactions from others that could harm them, physically or psychologically.
I would love to say I have no idea what this is like, but as a woman there have been times when I’ve experienced those actions and interactions because of my gender. But my experience and my fears pale in comparison with those whose skin color differs from mine.
So where does this leave me, in terms of the spiritual life? Suspended between heaven and earth. Hanging out at the intersection between inner and outer worlds. I am a beloved child of God, and so is every other being on this planet. We are all equal in God’s sight. When we can suspend our differentiating minds, we hang out together as one human family.
Come, join me on a metaphorical hammock. Let’s relax together and imagine a day when skin color makes no difference in America—in any way.