Combinations and Interconnections

There come shape shifting times when new connections and actions demand to be made. This happens in nations as well as in people, and aren’t we in such a time now? In our personal lives this kind of time will declare itself at some point. No one’s life is without it. It is then we must summon both patience and fierceness from gut and heart to begin true change and so act towards better imagined life-supporting ways for us and for those around us.

Phrases posted on Facebook, June 2020

In 1991 my book, Being Home, came out. Here is something from it that still feels true to me. Perhaps it will to you as well.
I am not separate from the deaths, the demands,
and the dealings, the disasters, the deceits,
the demagogues, and the diplomacy.
This is our incompleteness, our separation,
and our greed at work. Let me own my part.
The world’s hunger is mine.
The world’s helplessness is mine.
The world’s failure to love is mine.
Sober me to this connection in my life.
Let the news be printed on my conscience.
Help me bear it.   BEING HOME
One unkind thing done or said can topple the fragile balance in a family or in a community. The opposite is also true–one kind thing done and said can restore balance. These small, but profound tasks done daily work towards mending the ruptures we find around us. Even the smallest of things can be agents of grace.
It is a simple truth that we can’t go where we can’t imagine. No one can. In this tumultuous, fearful time, to be able to imagine constructive ways to have more equality, more opportunity for everyone, and more compassion are profoundly vital. That kind of imagination needs nurturing. We need to do it together or it won’t happen. All around us we see that our society has lost its values. We have slipped away from being truly human. To go back to fundamental values, ones that honor life itself is where our imagining needs to go now. Let’s call it moral imagination. It begins in the heart of each of us. We may be drops in the bucket, but the buckets will fill and spill into new life.
With racism, inequality and the Covid-19 epidemic, all converging, we have been brought to a combination of long standing suffering and long-standing neglect and indifference. Perhaps you feel as I do that this is a dynamic call to renew our awareness and for us to open our hearts in whatever ways we can to be part of the change that our society so desperately needs.
Long before the present crisis there have been wonderful voices asking for more awareness from us and as a consequence encouraging more helpful and conscious actions from us. The first quote is from Kathleen Moore’s book, Great Tide Rising, and the second is a piece of Gary Snyder’s words from Turtle Island. Even as seas rise against shores, another great tide is beginning to rise–a tide of outrage against the pillage of the planet, a tide of commitment to justice and human rights, a swelling affirmation of moral responsibility to the future and to Earth’s fullness of life. Snyder: To climb these coming crest one word to you, to you and your children: ‘stay together/learn the flowers/go light.
We know troubles as they come (and sometimes flood us as is happening now) are wake-up calls. They are invitations knocking down our doors. Simon Weil, the French philosopher, mystic and activist in her time said, We must not wish for the disappearance of our troubles, but the grace to transform them.
Sometimes in a time of limitation, new connections don’t seem possible. Persistent limitation may have us start to feel as if it will always continue. Fortunately, the one thing that really is always is change itself. Aren’t we asked to become more than our limitations suggest? Isn’t that an always invitation?
It seems that every spiritual teaching asks us to go within to find meaning and purposeful action there. Inside is a vastness of combinations and interconnections that can infuse us and lead us into a deeper participation in life. Emerson said, what lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. Conscious steps into interiority can open doors for us that we never could have imagined.
All around us now we can sense people both suffering and reaching into new ways to cope. I love the following wise quote by Sr. Wendy Becket: Risk is a human constant; it has to be accepted–and laid aside. What we can do we do. Beyond that, we endure, our endurance framed by a sense of what matters and what does not. The worst is not that we may be overwhelmed by disaster, but to fail to live by principle. Yet we are fallible and so the real worst, the antithesis of peace, is to refuse to recognize failure and humbly begin again.
Aren’t we lucky that there are so many wonderful thinkers to help us keep our heads up? Here are wise words from Parker Palmer. So we must learn, in this twisted age, that the ultimate therapy is to identify our own pain with the pain of others, and then band together to resist the conditions that create our common malady . . . As we learn to see our own plight in the lives of our brothers and s we will begin to find health. Therapy involves identifying and building communities of concern. Only so can we heal our selves.
More than ever, whatever of goodness we are able to be, live and share needs respect and honoring. Skills, connections and people we take fore granted may not be here ten years from now. In honoring the goodness we can be and live now, we inevitably honor the goodness in others. It seems to be a universal phenomenon, a win/win.
When lethargy, frustration, irritation and uncertainty are uppermost in mind and body, how do we move into better mindsets? My mom always said to go to sleep and that things would feel a little better when you woke up. A friend shared that she would exercise her body until her feelings were sweated out. Another friend said oxygenation was her answer, and that she would yawn each time a negative mood encroached. My daughter said to keep moving, right foot, left foot. What helps you to turn the corner and keep your heart open?
We are witnessing now, day after day, the eruption of generations of deep suffering, inequality, racism, gender discrimination, greed, misuse of resources, pollution of the environment. It can make us feel bitter and hopeless. But it is hope we need now. Michael Mead tells us . . . If we can stay in touch with ourselves, if we can find the connection to our deeper selves, we an find this deeper level of hope that truly should be called imagination . . . in the depths of each person there is a greater self and a core imagination that is truly the source of one’s life.
Last night I was awakened with the word, grow. I didn’t know exactly what grow was in reference to, but let me share what came to me. To construct a new reality which our nation badly needs, it can’t be done by force, will and making things happen. Those things will topple again and again. The new reality has to grow and that means a greater capacity to hold tension, to wait for new connections with patience and compassion. A willingness to grow will mean accepting growing pains as natural and needed. It will take time and every one of us needs to do the best we can in our individual lives for this to take place. I think that real change has deep roots . . . grass roots. That’s us!