A guest post from Jessica Snow

Catharsis has come a long way since its first year as a Vigil for Healing from the War on Drugs, with unquestionably the largest structure ever burnt on the National Mall, and only one sound stage to draw bodies closer through the coldest hours. If you have grown with Catharsis then perhaps you have seen a Golden Dragon take over the streets at Dawn, or the effigy of a Mother bathing the sky in sacred smoke, or felt the frozen fingers and toes of November give way to the sweet springtime rains of May. With 2020 close on the horizon, now seems to be the perfect time to reflect upon the future for Catharsis on the Mall, a vigil for healing through the arts. 

What is your vision for Catharsis on the Mall?

Perhaps like defining what it means to be a Democrat, the answer will be different for each person, with the only wrong answer being the one that divides instead of unites in vision. Many have seen Catharsis as a free Burning Man experience on the National Mall. By name it is a Vigil for Healing, and by practice it is radically inclusionary celebration of the arts in which all are invited to find release through expression of their First Amendment Rights. 

The past year has seen so much growth within the roots that inspired Catharsis. New babies, both in body and in business, have been birthed into the world. As individuals we have taken on the daunting task of unearthing trauma in our history– both personal and cultural– in order to speak the truth of healing and growth into the world. Amidst the maelstrom of confusion created by a rapidly disintegrating political structure, all political parties closing the year in the rawness of an open wound, we are blessed to find that there is beauty and sanctity to be found in expression through art. In the Catharsis of creative expression, we honor ourselves as perfectly imperfect and find in that presence the greatest gift of all: peace. 

This is my vision for Catharsis: a space that unites all in the expression of art, so that embodied and empowered by our own inner peace, we can disperse beauty into all corners of the world and cultivate healing space for all those who we touch beyond the mall. We do this for ourselves, to reap the benefit of a life filled with joy and abundance. We do this for our ancestors, to honor that their actions were taken to create a world of beauty for their children’s children– even if those actions were short sighted in nature. We do this for our children, or our friends children, and those children’s children: because joy and abundance means the most when it lives beyond the linear space and time of our own short visit to this planet. 

There is an old, Sanskrit prayer: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu, which means “may all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.” May the Catharsis community embody this same presence of liberation through union, planting deeply rooted seeds for a Vision of Haven, in our coming iteration on the Mall and beyond.

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