9: Transition

“The final stage of birthing labor is the most dangerous stage, and the most painful….The medical term is ‘transition.’ Transition feels like dying but it is the stage that precedes the birth of new life….In all our various creative labors—making a living, raising a family, building a nation—there are moments that are so painful, we want to give up. But inside searing pain and encroaching numbness we might also find the depths of our courage, hear our deepest wisdom, and transition to the other side.”

“Transition is the most painful and dangerous stage, but it’s also where we begin to see what comes into the space we open up….In such moments, I see glimpses of a nation waiting to be born, the society we aspire to be—an America that is multiracial, multifaith, multigendered, and multicultural, a nation where power is shared and we strive to protect the wellness and dignity of every person and work to save our earth and our collective future. Each of us has a role in this long labor, no matter who is in the White House. That means when a voice in us says, ‘I can’t,’ our most urgent task is to find the wisdom to stay in the fire.”

—Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger, Chapter 9

Understanding Transition

A Practice of Love for Ourselves

Transition is both a noun and a verb. Transition is the fiery process that is required to move from one reality into another. To transition is to summon the courage to stay in the labors of love and justice, even when we want to give up. It requires us to draw upon collective wisdom to birth something new together.

  1. What does it mean to “transition” as a practice of revolutionary love?  
  2. In what ways is the practice of transition an act of loving ourselves?
  3. What does it mean to transition our nation and our world through revolutionary love?
  4. How can understanding the transition stage help us to respond to the challenges of the present time?
  • Cultivate a practice of listening to your deepest wisdom, the parts of yourselves that are wise and brave and unfailingly loving. This might mean protecting a few minutes daily, if possible, to journal, or meditate, or draw or color or create—whatever gives you the stillness to quiet the noise of the world and listen to the wisest voice within you. If you do not yet hear anything, that is okay. Keep breathing.  Keep listening. The wisdom will come. Let this wisdom guide your actions and commitments. Create ways to share your wisdom with others.
  • As with every practice of revolutionary love, we must practice the labor of transition in community. Ask yourself: Who do I need with me so that I can stay in the labor of transition? Who can I support so that they can transition too?
  • To transition requires us to be brave, to return to the labors of revolutionary love even when it is difficult. Who makes you brave?  These may be people in your life, or they may be ancestors, authors, artists, or people you have never met. Keep these people and their voices close to you so that you can nurture your own bravery for these labors. 
  • Transition requires endings as well as new beginnings. As individuals we can ask: What stories am I willing to let die in order for new possibilities to be born? As a society we can ask: What stories about our nation have to die for a new America to be born?
  • Explore and learn from the bravery and vision of other leaders and thinkers like Angela Davis, Grace Lee Boggs, john a. powell and others who have, and are envisioning and working towards our collective transition as a nation.
  • Reflect in your wisdom journal: The wise voice in you will tell you when you need to breathe, push, grieve, rage, fight, etc. What do you need in any given day, in any given moment?   Reflect back on your responses to the questions from the Reimagine lesson. Ask yourself: Who do I need to be to contribute to this new vision of the world?