Earth Day Meditation : Being Led by the Pillar of Cloud and Fire
Earth Day Meditation : Being Led by the Pillar of Cloud and Fire
This confusing spring season offers such paradoxical wisdom. I was hastily gathering a crate load of garden blossoms for a retreat last Friday morning. Caught up with my mental meditations on the intoxicating profusion of spring and my own magnificence in creating such a wonder, I rushed around, my head held high in the glory of it all. Little did I realize that I was tracking a pile of dog poop across the lawn: back and forth down the stone paths, up the stairs and across the patio – a horrendous mess of classic proportions! Unconsciously my feet had successfully fouled every place of beauty that I walked. Alas, so much of the human glory we desire is won at such cost to Earth and to all us creatures. We just can’t help but track around our mess with us.
Those of us active change-agents, those called to risk that find courage to lead from our hearts, often make the biggest messes. Those who prefer to remain passive and shelter in the fox-holes of psyche and spirit, or live from their body desires alone, create some ghastly messes in their interior life, and countless misery for their neighbors. There is a deep paradox to living, changing, in the never-ending cycle of birth and death. We are born, live, and die in our own unique crossroads in time and place. This weekend, I have come to see each of us as a vortex, a spiral of energy – much like a whirlwind.
For too much of our human life, we are repelled or led from the outside. Consciously or unconsciously, we change, fight, force, fix, clean up and order, all that comes across our paths. It takes a lot of work to clean-up the mess of this world and many are mightily discouraged and worn-out with trying so hard. No wonder many tune out to the news of trouble and get on with their own lives. “Business as Usual,” as Joanna Macy calls it. Thankfully, I am also aware of so many who are holding the tense paradox of their own poop on the shoes of their life, and yet remain willing to keep walking openly in the vulnerability of their glorious humanity.
I have been wondering about the human paradox of how to remain vulnerable and powerful, grounded as an individual yet connected to other distinctly different persons within community, while containing the wisdom of the fierce, natural powers of the animal within. How do we sustain the life of spirit, psyche, and body, both as individuals and as Earth community? Isn’t it a paradox that the more wholeness we find, the more we have to contain vast, untapped reservoirs of uncertainty, confusion and conflict? The spiraling violence in our culture affects us, even leads us – whether we own that fact or not. Our Western culture imposes a high price in our lack of communal awareness, the shadow life of powerful individualism. Like it or not, what we see and are repelled by in the news is in some way a reflection of ourselves.
In this desert waste-land the highest levels of government clearly are lost and wandering in the wilderness. When the shiny face and words of the Moses’ leaders in our life have lost their appeal, where do we find the resilience to not just hunker down in reclusive self-awareness, but to collectively read what is written in the sand and discover our passionate spirals of truth-telling; these ideas or actions that will undoubtedly hurl us into new beginnings? The tornado action of a vortex is surely deeply uncomfortable inside, and downright dangerous on the outside. Do you recall the stories of the wandering Hebrews who had forty years of unsettling experience with their leading pillar of cloud and fire?
I propose that at this time we the people of Earth have been given the collective mandate to love this Earth the way we must learn to love ourselves – gently. The vortex of powerful life energy that is called by our individual name: Carol, Uli, Sheera, Ahmad, Ngungu, or Dzhokhar must be unconditionally loved and respectfully understood from within – that is our individual work and our collective work as a human family. We have reams of words and stories, centuries of wisdom, about how to change our individual and social human condition, but are only now tapping into the collective stormy consciousness of this time. Like weather patterns, each of us is extraordinarily connected to each other; our energy fields profoundly affect one another as we move and intersect visibly, and even more – invisibly.
Curiously, when I found myself shocked by the excrement in my carefully-tended garden, the biggest lesson learned was that I almost missed the core of revelation of that moment. This gift of truth was obscured in the tunnel of my annoyance and busyness. My disgust and horror for a few moments subsumed all the peace and beauty in my life, to say nothing of the delightful humor of laughter that will provide more long-term fodder for growth than those fragile, picked flowers of spring. It takes courage to stop and pay attention to what the shadows teach us, but over a life-time of tending my inner garden I was even more shocked at how easily I could have missed this vital text message from my most potent guide. We are constantly caught up in our own little human tornadoes of thought and action that exclude Earth as Teacher.
In our Circle of Trust ® this weekend at Pendle Hill, PA, we offered time to slow down and attend the often paradoxical, painful, swirling tornadoes of our lives. We witnessed all the invited and uninvited guests with gentleness and compassion. Yes, it is a struggle to find rest in the eye of the storm, to work from that place of deepest inner energy. But we discovered that we cannot do it alone and it is only through drawing close to each other, and to all of Earth community, that we learn the deepest truths of soulful sustainability. Let us continue to embrace all that agitates us, all who challenge us, all which repels our center of gravity, so that we might more clearly experience the loving harmony of Mystery that holds all of this messy and wonderful life on Earth together. It is from this eye of the storm, this place of inner quiet that the seeds of our creative communal responses to life are broken open and can spring into more expansive being.
YES! We are being led. On this brisk spring morning when the garden’s magnificence floods every sense, this fact is certain. I rest in the center which holds, the calm that abides, and the joy that cleanses and refreshes. Aware of the swirling uncertainty of this moment – inside and out, I sense also the waves of violence and fear whipping across our land that torment every person, community, and every species including our own. Still I can say with confidence, “Yes, we are being led.” On the other side of desperate hope and raging fear lies the sustaining promise for unfurling, evolving, abundant life for each one of us on this precious globe.
Earth Day, April 22, 2013