Winter’s last gasp clutches the land this weekend. One more round of frigid weather that buries the hopes of spring under freezing rain, with even a forecast of snow again tonight. I had made other plans—namely to clean up the detritus of this 2013-14 winter ‘horribilis’. Instead, I am once again brought back indoors to rework my day. No big deal truthfully, but once again it seems excruciating clear, that we as beings are constantly forced to adjust to untold elements of change. This is an essential quality of being nature ourselves. Personally I have spent much of the last decades of my life living attentively at this intersection and discovering that it is here that true creativity emerges. It is here that I am able to make a choice not to numb out, nor react, but to find resiliency and courage for the next steps.
Maybe you, like me, are on a daily quest; searching for élan vital - or ‘vital ardor.’ You boldly recognize that life has changed. You have changed. This earth is changing rapidly, and something must be done about it! This wild winter has given me lots of time to consider the significance of life force. I have been meditatively breathing with the dozens of my pond goldfish who have been hibernating, almost frozen solid since Christmas. I wonder what energy sustains them. What sustains those of us called to spend our lives as change-agents, yet still swimming in our picayune tribal ponds while living off and in the skin and bones of others in the big global ocean?
What compels us to constantly attempt to move heaven and earth doing our parts to right the wrongs of injustice and create a globe that our grandchildren can peacefully live in? Here are some of the questions that have been poking at my brain stem, niggling at my conscience, and erupting in my heart.
- What is the creative force within an organism – an individual or a community – that is responsible for growth, change, and necessary or desirable adaptations?
- What is animating my work right now?
- What gives life to me and to the people I serve?
- What emboldens, motivates, and brings my story alive?
- What life is moving through me, stirring me into action, filling me with courage and vigor?
One part of me wishes I could wrap this up with some easy answers, but I do offer an opportunity to join a day of conversation with like-minded folks. One thing I know that sustains me, that gives me life, is to offer people deep questions and a safe place to explore them. So I offer retreats, for a few hours or a few days. This year all my day retreats are offered around issues of personal and communal sustainability. Through Courage and Renewal® practices and tools that employ quiet reflection, story, poetry and music, we develop internal and collective resources to create a more sustainable approach to activism that serves the world’s great needs without draining our spirits.
The next “Sustaining Earth Sustaining Self” day retreat on April 12 in downtown Wayne, PA will be a time of “listening to and learning from Africa”, through the stories of my dear friend Pini Kidula and her remarkable work with Jitokeze Wamama Wafrika in West Pokot, Kenya. Check here for more information.
Oh, and by the way …you can count on the fact that Pini is one person who has uncovered and deeply lives from her élan vital!
Please join the conversation – in our communal circle or on-line, or face-to-face. It will agitate, confound, and excite you. I guarantee it will fill you with courage and spring vitality, it will stir you into action and it will sustain you. That is the nature of Life Force – of élan vital!