They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Each picture, seen through a different set of eyes and experiences, becomes a thing to be admired or dreaded. This thing can trigger peace or even mourning.
As the teacher leading the session, I originally saw this photo as a beautiful capture, by Dominic Nell of Nellaware Photography, of a diverse yoga class, and a safe space that we created for people of all ages and fitness levels. I was pleased that we had created a place where we all could "Heal In Community" at The Living Well Center for Social & Economic Vibrancy. A community elder, sitting in a chair, blessing us with her presence.
The Living Well is planning for a day of activities (Nov 3rd, 12-10pm) to support the Baltimore Ceasefire/Peace Challenge. For the Weekend of Nov 3rd- Nov5th, we ask that "Nobody Kill Anybody for 72 hours." It will (coincidentally) kick off with Chair Yoga for Community Elders, and end with a celebration of life with friends, music, dancing, and food from local restaurant, The Terra Cafe.
Our team, eagerly planning festivities, came up with a marketing campaign. Below is the same photo as seen above, but with information about our healing event:
Depending on who you are and what your experiences are in life, your interpretation of this photo may take on many forms. I was there, so I can tell you this...about half way through this rather large yoga class, I noticed that the woman was struggling with the poses that I was asking the class to perform, while the people around her were young and strong. She was new to the practice, and I admired her courage to continue on. So that she would be more comfortable, I asked someone to please bring her a chair to sit on. As with any other yoga practice, the class was ended with the final pose, savasana, which is Sanskrit for "corpse pose."
When you connect this photo with the Baltimore Ceasefire, it becomes a powerful reminder of the shooting deaths of our young people, with an African-American man at the forefront. So now, this unplanned/unstaged photo becomes a bit of an expression of the sadness looming over Baltimore. A childless mother who mourns the loss of her son; feeling a common bond with other mothers across the nation who have lost their children to senseless violence and murder. As a mother of sons, my heart bleeds for her. She is unable to rest as she holds vigil, her arms raised in surrender to a higher power. The expression on her face...it is obvious that she is mindfully breathing.
On the flip side, this also shows that healing is possible, but it can not be done alone. The candle of one does not dim when it lights another. Instead, the light grows brighter, and we all shine. In order for the Baltimore Ceasefire to be successful, we all have to SHOW UP, participate, and work together.
From The Baltimore Ceasefire 365 Facebook Page:
"Baltimore Ceasefire 365 is a city-wide call-to-action for Baltimore City residents to avoid murder and affirm life. #DontBeNumb #VibrateHigher HISTORY: In May, 2017, this movement started as a city-wide call, asking Baltimore residents to avoid having any murders from Friday, August 4th through Sunday, August 6th, 2017. It was also a city-wide call, asking Baltimore residents to celebrate life during the ceasefire, by joining with others to plan life-affirming events. The August 2017 Baltimore Ceasefire/Baltimore Peace Challenge was historical for Baltimore City. There were over 50 events, countless residents received resources they needed, and there was no murder for a total of 67 out of the 72 hours. At a time when the statistic was one murder every nineteen hours in Baltimore, the beginning of the August 2017 ceasefire saw 41 continuous hours without murder. Baltimore mourned the loss of Lamontrey Tynes and Donte Johnson on Day 2 of the August 2017 ceasefire. This shook us, down to our roots. People from around the world rushed to send love and support to both families. The loss of our brothers showed us that we had been numb in relation to daily murders in Baltimore... which led to new affirmations: #DontBeNumb and #VibrateHigher. These new affirmations remind us to honor every life that Baltimore loses, to use the pain to be better to one another, and to work even harder to heal violence. GOAL & PROCESS: The ultimate goal of Baltimore Ceasefire 365 is for everyone in the city to commit to no shootings, no stabbings, etc... zero murders. We are starting by calling ceasefire weekends, knowing that there will come a time when everyone in Baltimore will honor that these are sacred weekends, and will honor each ceasefire. By agreeing to sacred weekends without murder, We All will eventually agree to honor the sacredness of each day, and put an end to murder. Throughout the year, this movement serves as a hub for organizations and citizens to support one another, work together, and share resources, with the goal of seeing an end to murder in Baltimore City."