Dear family,

I’ve been feeling a lot of rage lately – when the death toll in this pandemic hit one million, when we saw the leaked ruling to end Roe, after the fall of Mariupol. I have felt rage beyond words since Buffalo… and Uvalde. It feels like a fiery hot fist in my belly.

What is the force of rage inside your body?

I used to think I was only as good or spiritual as my ability to choke down my rage. I used to think that rage was somehow antithetical to nonviolence and peaceful action. But here’s what I wish to tell you: Our rage is a powerful source of information and energy. This burning is the body’s wisdom saying “there is something worth protecting here.” And when we can find a safe container to process this rage, we can be in relationship with it, learn from it, focus it.

Welcome to this week’s installment of our spring-summer series: rage as a practice of revolutionary love. 

Let’s start with a definition. To rage is to tap into our body’s power to protect ourselves and others. When we honor our rage, we are tending to our own pain, so that it does not corrode into hate, for others or for ourselves. We release energy for action.

Rage is a healthy, normal response to trauma. But so many of us have been schooled in the ways of suppressing our rage in order to survive. The solution is not to suppress our rage or let our rage explode, but to process our rage in safe containers – places where we can express our emotions without causing harm to others, or ourselves. Safe containers: shaking, pounding, screaming, drumming, dancing, crying, wailing, venting. The key is to let the energy move through you, and feel it without shame. When we find a safe expression for our rage, we can be in relationship with it. We can ask: What information does my rage carry? What does it say about what’s important to me? How do I want to harness this energy for what I do next? I call that harnessed energy divine rage. The aim of divine rage is not vengeance; the aim of divine rage is to reorder the world.

Think of it as a dance: process raw rage in safe containers, harness that energy for divine rage in the world. When we learn how to dance with our rage, we create space for listening and reimagining. Scroll down for your Rage Practice.

Spiritual elder Parker Palmer calls revolutionary love “the new nonviolence,” because it makes room for rage and grief, and invites each of us to reflect on our role in any given moment in the labor for a just world. Share this email with someone who needs it. Practice together. Go gently. Breathe, then push.


P.S. If you are ready to channel your rage into action after Uvalde, read my letter here for next steps.

The solution is not to suppress our rage or to let it explode, but to process our rage in safe containers–emotional spaces safe enough to express our body’s impulses without shame and without harming ourselves or others.

If accessing your rage safely is still a new practice for you, it may be helpful to let a trusted friend know what you are doing. Bookend this guided inquiry with phone calls or conversations with someone who can support you.

Where is rage inside your body right now? If it is difficult for you to access, remember all the things that you are grieving about and fighting for. Don’t be afraid of your rage. Don’t be ashamed. Just notice it.

Stay with the sensations of your rage. You might notice tension, clenching, springing, heat. Notice the shape of your rage in your body, wherever it’s living — in your heart, your belly, your throat, your legs.

What does your rage want to do? How does it want to move your body? Invite simple movement. Maybe you are springing to your feet. Maybe you start to cry, or scream, or yell. Maybe you are starting to shake or spin or stomp. Let the energy move through you.

What safe containers do you need to process this rage? Writing, dancing, running, therapies, rituals of all kinds. Safe containers are ways to process this rage in a way that does not harm others or yourself. Do you need a friend or professional to help you?

What information does your rage carry? What is your rage telling you about what is important to you?

How do you want to harness this energy in the world? What creative nonviolent action are you ready to take? Who can take this action with you?

Explore your safe container for rage. This may be weeping, meditation, journaling, screaming into a pillow, throwing things on the ground, creating art, music, dance, therapies, rituals or ceremonies. This may be a “planned tantrum” when you lie on your back, gently move your head left and right, pound the floor with your hands, and release whatever sounds emerge.

Reflect in your wisdom journal: What information does my rage carry? What is it telling me? How do I want to release and/or harness this energy? What does divine rage look like for me?

Remember you are in the process of transformation. Harnessing our rage is powerful and challenging work.  Go slowly and be gentle. 

Loving our opponents is a rhythm: step away to rage, return to listen, and reimagine the solutions together. Our friend and singer Maggie Wheeler read these words in SEE NO STRANGER and turned them into a song for us!

Listen to “It is a Rhythm” and more music for the movement right on the learning hub by clicking here.

Read an Excerpt

“I pictured myself as the tiger sniffing the bloodied clothes on the ground and noticed that the lieutenant wasn’t there. Instead there stood a frail man, a naked and anxious man, a white man who did not know what else to do with his anxiety but rage at the women of color in proximity to him. He was the product of a system that sanctioned routine violence as the outlet for rage, whether at a detention center in New York City or at a prison in Abu Ghraib…When I tore up these men with my fangs, I was not destroying them. I was destroying my projections of them. My mind had turned them into monsters—bad guys with infinite power over me. But there is no such thing as monsters in this world. There are only human beings who are wounded. These men had hurt me out of their own suffering. It was common, it was banal. When we cannot see that evil is driven by a person’s wounds, not their innate nature, we become terrified of each other. But the moment we see their wounds, they no longer have absolute power over us. I could not see the wound in them until I tended to the wound inside me. And that required me to access my rage.” –excerpt from SEE NO STRANGER, Chapter 4

Start here with our introduction to the compass. I teach ten core practices of revolutionary love, backed by research and infused with ancestral wisdom. Imagine these practices as points on a compass. Point the compass toward whomever you want to practice loving— another, an opponent, or yourself. Decide what practice you need. You can use this compass as a tool in all arenas in your life.

Listen to Valarie walk you through the compass and explore stories, lesson plans, meditations, and music on our learning hub. Click here to explore!

Take the Revolutionary Love Training Course. Just pop in your earbuds and go on a journey with me. Intimate, inspirational, and practical, this course is a deep immersion in the practices of revolutionary love: How do we love when it’s hard? How do we tend the wounds in ourselves, and others? How do we stay awake to the world and still find breath, pleasure, and joy in our bodies? If you are hungry for transformation that bridges the political and personal, spirituality and social justice, this is for you.