Updated: Mar 19
In recent years I have found myself organically drawn into a practice of cultivating awe. Earth life is amazing, yet so often we don’t bother to notice. Staying in touch with this amazingness helps me make it through the horrors that confront us daily. I made this Facebook post in October 2021 recounting some of the wonders filling me that day: "There is so much magic everywhere that we make ourselves too busy to notice. Today I have made a point of noticing more... The slanting angle of morning light. The animated discourse of birds. The fragrance of the air at dusk. A loving message from a friend. The gift of water when I am thirsty, and breath to fill my lungs. Ancestral guidance on a question I had planted before sleep. A timid dog sniffing my hand and deciding I was safe. The magnetic pull as I lie upon the Earth, bringing me almost to tears. Ordinary extraordinary gifts everywhere. My heart is full. It is living in awareness of this everywhere-magic that reminds me we are part of (and companioned by) a vast and loving Universe -- no matter what we may be facing -- and gives me the courage to keep on. Dear ones, if you need encouragement, lean into the Mystery with me... and know that you are loved."
We must steadily remind ourselves of that everywhere-magic and beauty. Especially in the face of so much that is not beautiful. As we regard the world... as we center ourselves to pray, or take to the streets to march... as we hear the body count from the latest mass shooting (in a school, a church, a grocery store)... as we listen to the fear mongering of mainstream media, or to the moaning of the Earth... may we allow our hearts to be not only broken, but broken open. Broken open to new possibilities, broken open to reveal more courage, more creativity, more understanding, more love.
The events of the world provide a constant opportunity to have our hearts broken open -- in response to atrocity, yes, but also in awe of the beauty. The invitation, and the challenge, is to stay present to all of it, to allow our hearts to be as wide as the cosmos. If we only see suffering and evil and pain, we’re not paying attention. But if we only see sweetness and happiness, then we’re also not paying attention. It’s through the spiritual discipline of remaining awake to it all, of inhabiting the both-and (rather than the either-or), that our hearts are most expansive and alive.
In order to contribute our gifts in these times of collective transformation, we need our wholeness. All of it; all of us. To infuse the fullness of our Be-ing into the project of liberation. This includes our joy and our grief, our rage and celebration, our creativity, sexuality, spirituality. The totality of our unique composite. What parts of your wholeness, your authenticity, might you be leaving out?
Perhaps I am just telling on myself here, but I think we learn to discount or suppress essential parts of who we are -- especially those aspects of self that most diverge from the violent capitalist culture that shaped the crises we now face. This serves the purposes of those dominating forces, of course. To leave out parts of our authentic selves is to diminish our lifeforce and our capacity to vision, dream, heal, and re-imagine the world. Our fullness is the seat of our power, it is the YES we give to Life... and that Life gives in turn to us. It is the offering we make one another. Once we experience it we cannot settle long for less.
Note: This post is an excerpt from my book-in-progress.
[Photo by Roman Kraft on UnSplash]