Protesters 'Om the Dom' at the Wisconsin Capitol on Monday, June 4.
Taking a collective breath on the eve of one of the most contentious elections in Wisconsin history, a few hundred people gathered Monday night at the state Capitol to chant a meditative "Om." Holding hands, they had just enough people to circle the Capitol.
The event was dubbed "Om the Dome" and it was, as my friend and former colleague, Dave Callender, noted, a quintessential "Madison moment." Chanting "Om" is often used in yoga and meditative practices to enter a relaxed and focused state.
The plan was to wait until the rise of the full "strawberry moon," so named because June is the time for the strawberry harvest. A large glass bowl of strawberries was passed around for the crowd to share.
Oma Vic McMurray, who runs a home childcare center and has been active in the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker, instructed the crowd on breathing techniques and led a practice group "Om."
McMurray says many of the people who attended the group "Om" Monday night had also occupied the Capitol in the winter of 2011 after Walker announced his plan to curtail collective bargaining rights for most public workers. The event brought people full circle after a long haul, she says. "Here we are at the end. We've done all we could do. We've chanted, phone called, protested. This is a completion of all that faith we had together. And it was a celebration of that."
McMurray says the community chant was meant to be a time to "consciously connect on a spiritual level so that we could raise the energy and have faith that this will be a good week for Wisconsin."
Connie Nadler says she felt the symbolism of the moment. "It was quite touching. I was at the connecting point where we were stretching to reach and connect to the other end of the line. The Capitol police were there and were real encouraging. People rushed from the street to help" complete the circle.
For Susan Kaye, a public school social worker, it was a time to "energetically connect with other people and to put out a shared intention -- the intention to take back our state."
"For me it was spiritual," she adds. "Using another avenue to approach our efforts."
Tuesday's recall election pits Walker, a Republican, against Democratic challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is being challenged by Democrat Mahlon Mitchell. There are also recall elections for four GOP state senators.