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Lions Roar : September 2019
“I was devastated,” he says. “I didn’t know any- thing about the uprising and I certainly didn’t know that I would see the figure of a man with my last name, who very well could be a relative. I stood there in a state of shock. I was trying to take in the enormity of it all and wondering, What happened? Who were these people? Why is it that my name is on this monument? I remember being flooded with outrage. And then—through the process of prac- tice and community connection with the group after we came back—all of that changed to having a sense of pride.” Other retreatants agreed that much of what the narratives at the Whitney Plantation communicated was the resilience of slaves. “I came out of the plantation angry and crying,” Rowe remembers. “Everyone else was pretty sad, but I was angry. DaRa told us that these things hap- pened in history, but we can’t stay there. We need to look at where we are today. Look at how strong we are as a people.” When they returned to Flowering Lotus Retreat Center, the DTL teachers created a safe container to share what was witnessed at the plantation and acknowledge the stories that were told and the lega- cies remembered. Participants drew genograms— pictorial displays created to trace their family histories. This exercise explored their internal and external conditioning and helped them see how these traumas have manifested in physical illness, psychological wounds, and other forms of suffering. Retreatant Beli Sullivan describes how “bizarre” ailments had culminated in life-threatening illnesses that mirrored her mother’s trauma. “Not knowing my Sullivan grandparents and cousins is an empti- ness,” she says. “It is traumatic. In the silence of the The retreat ended in New Orleans, where they visited St. Augustine’s Church, site of the Tomb of the Unknown Slave, and Congo Square, where slaves were permitted to celebrate with music and dance on Sundays, as depicted in the sculpture “Spirit of Congo Square,” by Adéwalé Adénlé (below).