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Bending the Arc with Donuts


By Christine Gilman, Compassionate Listening Facilitator

 

You know the sounds of upcoming storms. The wind shifts. The color changes. The dust kicked up early on Sunday morning. Too early.



We were aiming for a smooth setup for the Vote Common Good rally, Hosted by a group of "Democratic women", mostly octogenarians. It took place on quiet San Marcos Island.

It was only 8 am but the unmistakeable revving up of trucks, peeling of motorcycles, and horns blasting made their entrance. The Proud Boys had arrived. They were followed shortly by police who quickly erected a 200yd separation barricade between us with instructions not to pass it.



They began like a pregame tail-gate party before they started winding up their raucous protest. Horns and wheelies, mocking and yelling. Men and women alike.



I sat there wondering what to do. What could I do? Ominous clouds continued to gather.

I remembered the story of Jesus feeding his disciples. It occurred to me that many of his encounters were around food…….what did we have here outside that we could offer? Only a box of donuts!!



I grabbed the box and made my way through the barrier and encountered our opposition.

They first smirked and sneered and then joked that perhaps I’d poisoned them. We exchanged light hearted quips and they eventually grabbed a few donuts. Space-shifting donuts!!! When asked why? I replied “we’re all people. Just humans. I like donuts and thought you would too! It’s early on a Sunday morning, so why not?” And I wished them well and crossed back…… Before I could, I was stopped by 2 women who said “you’ve got a lot of balls coming over here….”

I said, "not really! We’re just people. Mothers. Wives. Sisters. We’re in this together.

Do you want a donut?"

Christine receives a drink from a protestor

The rally continued with heckles and jeers and interruptions. But one particular interruption had an impact. A young woman came over.

“I went to the store for this kind of drink and thought you might like one too. I saw what you did.” And she hugged me saying these are my friends but I don’t necessarily embrace everything they believe.



As the rally wound down and our visitors were preparing their exits, one of their more vocal Proud Boys came over to me and said “Ma'am, I appreciate what you did and all…..with the donuts and I wanted to tell you that. And say thank you.”



Ahhh, bending the arc of light with donuts!

 

Christine Gilman facilitates reconciliation for women and girls living in or fleeing from war-torn countries. She also consults globally with university and organizational leaders wanting to integrate Compassionate Listening into their curriculum and events. Christine’s Compassionate Listening work was seeded while on a social justice mission with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. She witnessed reconciliation as Liberian rebel leaders spoke of the atrocities they had inflicted. The experience deepened her desire and commitment to use listening as a healing bridge, and she became a CL facilitator. Christine has facilitated numerous CL workshops engaging teens, women in trauma centers, and interfaith organizations in Bethlehem, Palestine. She is also bringing CL to Muslim and refugee projects in Oregon, where she lives with her husband, Tim. Her interests in faith, art, and culture led Christine to a degree in Practical Theology from Portland State University. Her experience as an artist, teacher, facilitator, event organizer, editor, gallery owner, and parent grounds her work in real-world understanding and empathy. Christine’s finely-tuned intuitive compass enables her to prepare and hold space for transformation to occur, and her jubilant, welcoming spirit sets a loving table for healing.


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