A majestic buck stands outside my studio window, taut, muscular, sniffing the air. The bucks come down from the hills to the fallow fields when the days turn cool, as precise a movement as the flock of geese swinging a compass high overhead. I find comfort in the returning cycles of sun and season. They offer balance when much of the old order I’ve taken for granted is in grave disrepair.
How to maintain balance when it seems that all we’ve relied on is unraveling? Along with many others, it is a question I ask myself. In a thoughtful letter, a reader from another country writes that in his profession, he counsels others to develop the capacity to bridge differences; that ‘seeing every point of view is an essential starting point.’ This man has made a lifelong effort to live according to his highest values, and despairs as he sees his country being vandalized by a government which has hijacked our democratic system and which shows no interest in the dialogue essential to maintaining it. He concludes: ‘I must confess, I have my work cut out for me when it comes to maintaining equanimity in the face of the ongoing savaging of this planet.’
This is the work. When all around us people are polarized by fear and anger, we need not lend energy to the battle. We can stand in the fires of social confusion and choose a more radical way: to take no enemies. A mind set against something is not conscious in the best sense of the word. It is operating at a more primitive level. Real consciousness requires us to live with an open heart, made fierce by anger and softened by the grief we feel for our own shortcomings and those of the world. Hearts filled with compassion know what it is to feel helpless before what Whitman called ‘life’s fierce enigmas.’ But I think when we’ve accepted the truth of our own profound vulnerability, we can begin to surrender the many ways we’ve tried to guarantee the outcomes we want, and learn to trust Life’s own unfolding, however uncertain it may be. It leads to a quiet mind, one that’s learned to how to hold all kinds of inner and outer contradictions and not expect to solve them. From this kind of consciousness, we can serve what we value most, and at the same time, refuse to be co-opted by the hostilities swirling about us. Perhaps then, we can work for the good of all together, and breathe new life into a suffering world.
We belong to life, and we can trust that life knows how to engage us creatively. Our work is to be present, to listen, and to step forward when it taps the potential deep within us. Then, whatever social, global, or environmental changes lie ahead, we will be participants in life’s creative unfolding and the gradual awakening of Love.
From Awakening the Energies of Love: Discovering Fire for the Second Time
Kosmos — perhaps one of the loveliest journals that exists — features an article by Anne Hillman on Personal and Global Transformation in their Summer ’09 issue. Kosmos takes no advertising and has spared nothing to make it a feast for the eye, hand, and mind. The art and photography are spectacular and I love the feel and look of the print version. This particular issue is the first to go online and you can read the digital version of Personal and Global Transformation here. Unfortunately, the online version doesn’t separate an article’s headers from the text as clearly as they are in print. However, you can also get a back copy of any issue of Kosmos from their “subscribe” page. I guarantee you: to read each issue is an amazing experience! And I am still surprised and very grateful to be included in their immensely creative adventure.
Offerings — the quarterly journal from the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose CA, is dedicated to "Spiritually Conscious Living in an Awakened World". The Summer ’09 issue includes an article condensed from the first chapter of Awakening the Energies of Love by Anne Hillman. The Center welcomes people of all traditions and as well as those who may feel spiritually ‘homeless,’ and meets countless local needs as well as those of people around the world. I am grateful for the emailed daily inspiration from Spiritual Director, The Rev. Ellen Grace O’Brian. Like all the Center’s publications, the journal is aesthetically satisfying and filled with wisdom. You can request a free copy by writing the center at email@example.com