The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
As a kid, I loved and admired Helen Keller and Amelia Earhart as two women who threw themselves into life full throttle, with absolutely nothing held back. I read voraciously about their lives, always marveling at their risk-taking and their open hearts. I knew, even then, that these were women I wanted to emulate. I wanted to walk the tightrope they walked. Not in terms of flying around the world on my own, or overcoming the adversity that a childhood illness can bestow. No, not that. What I wanted, that I saw they possessed, was a life that deeply touched other lives. I aspired to that sort of life. I didn’t know it then, but I wanted to both teach and write, in equal measure.
When I think back on 2011, I see that time and time again, I was stretched beyond what I thought my limits were. And every time that happened, my spirit did indeed step outside of the confines of what I thought was possible. Repeatedly, I was shown an alchemical process of growth that does, in fact, turn lead into gold. My heart — though fragile — is also strong enough to be be broken open by life, and still keep ticking away. In fact, a heart broken open (as opposed to a heart closed down by grief or anger) is the exact thing the world needs right now. We need to be more openhearted and kind. We need to see beyond difference and find common ground. Spirituality and true presence in the only moment we have — right now — is the only thing that will heal us. And by extension, it is the only thing that will heal this planet. If you look around with your eyes wide open, you will see, it is in dire need of our tender care. So how can we build a better world? How can I give my heart? How can I make a difference? Those are the questions that are rolling around my brain this morning, on the last day of this tumultuous year.
For me, I must start with myself. Change is only possible externally (out in the world) once we turn our focus in, to our own inner lives. This is where our spiritual housecleaning must begin. We cannot be snarling messes emotionally, spiritually, and psychically and not expect that to show up in the world as equal portions of snarling, unconscious, toxic mess. How could it be otherwise?
Where to start, though?
Wherever we are.
So, if I am feeling like a heap of crap — time to get out a shovel and dig around to figure out why.
If I want to see love bloom in my life — time to really turn, look, and start to love myself. If I cannot love me, certainly I make that job difficult, if not impossible, for others.
If I want to affect the environment — time to make personal choices to shop locally, cut down on driving (if you do drive, which I don’t), cook at home, nurture your personal and professional relationships, and only eat things that nourish you. For me, that means less meat (and only organic, grass fed, compassionately raised meat, if I do eat it), more plant-based foods, less sugar, and no wheat/barley/rye. Food with gluten makes me ill. I might as well accept the truth!
If I want to contribute to the civic consciousness of my community, I have to stop thinking that half of the population of the community is insane, out of touch, psycho, or just plain wrong. I must see everyone with new eyes and an open heart. (Believe me, as a progressive, this is extremely challenging. I know that all of us just want what we deem is best for our families and friends. I just wish that our views weren’t so polarized.)
Is any of this easy? Hell no. That’s why it is called “spiritual work.”
2012 is just a few hours away. No, I don’t believe the world is about to end. In fact, I believe a better world is about to born. I know this in the marrow of my bones. And that starts with me becoming more conscious and more kind and more loving — first toward myself — and then toward others.
Happy New Year. May we all bless the world with our gifts and our wakeful consciousness in the coming year.
© 2011 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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