A Speed of Soul Encouragement – Acknowledging Grief, Claiming Love, Remembering Radiance
In the wake of January 6th many of us are wrestling with grief, dismay, anger, racial double standard and discouragement. So today I acknowledge what is hard as stone. Lets not candy coat anything. But let us also claim that there is a stronger force, a deeper truth and a wide and active community of good hearted, decent people. Let us remind one another of all the fine and honorable people in our own lives. Let us remind ourselves of how many people got up this morning and continue to make the world a kinder place, one day, one person, three feet around them. Yesterday I wrote my legislators, and encourage others to claim agency and let their voices be heard. But I also encourage digging into what makes your life good. Howard Thurman wrote that “hope is the remembrance of radiance, the assurance that Light will be Light, even when walking in dark places.” I am gathering to myself that remembrance of radiance, the assurance that even in the aftermath of viewing the forces of shadow close up, goodness is still goodness, Light is still Light, and hope is still here and has not been hemmed in. I wrote my legislators, but I also texted a few dear friends to tell them I care, and to express that I am grateful for their presence in my life and in the world.
My encouragement today is to claim agency and to claim love. Text, zoom, call or somehow connect with someone who you think of as a treasure in your life, someone that illuminates your life, who reminds you of the power of love and the remembrance of radiance. Reach out and affirm what keeps saving us – goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gratitude, generosity, hospitality, justice and love…always love. Lay your hand on your heart and know that you also illuminate the lives of others around you. You are also doing what you can each day, in your own way, to make the world around you a kinder place.
Today we acknowledge the shadows, but we lean into the light.
~ Carrie Newcomer, Artist/Musician
There’s a terrible hollowness, an emptiness at the core of society right now that comes from our trying to exile ourselves farther and farther from nature. Nature is something that most people visit on weekends. Yet we evolved to be intimately tied to nature, to feel whole and natural when we belong to nature, and to respond to that ever-changing fantasia of the seasons. The harder that we try to deny that heritage, the more alienated we become.
~ Diane Ackerman
I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not already, but there is much, very much, which though I cannot give it, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this precious little instant.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and courage in the darkness could we but see; and to see, we have only to look.
Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their coverings, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, and wisdom, and power. Welcome it, greet it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence.
Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.
Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.
Courage, then, to claim it, that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims wending through unknown country our way home.
~ Letter to a friend written by Italian friar and painter
Giovanni da Fiesole, known as Fra Angelico, 1387-1455
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
~ e. e. cummings
My word of the year is listen.
It’s one of those words whose meaning is in its music. Listen is a quiet word, that half swallowed L and diffident I and softly hissing S. It defies the clamorous words it absorbs, the words that have defined this year, the shouts and roars, the bray and bluster. Listening is hard when the sounds around us grow mean and ugly.
And listening takes particular courage in divisive times.
It’s long past time that we quiet our animal spirits. Our fierce public battles, political fights that have infected our friendships and family, have degraded our discourse, defaced institutions, disturbed our peace. I grew up in Quaker schools, which included regular silent meetings. This did not come naturally to nine-year-olds. But I found then, and need to be reminded now, that we can’t hear the soft, sane voice inside us if we’re talking all the time, and certainly not if we’re shouting.
Instead, let’s listen. Invite surprise. Invest in subtlety. And surrender to silence once in a while.
~ Nancy Gibbs
We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience – even of silence – by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting.
~ Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk
There are billions of tiny acts that create suffering in the world—acts of ignorance, greed, violence. But in the same way, each act of caring—all the billion tiny ways that we offer compassion, wisdom, and joy to one another—serves as a preservative and healing agent.
~ Ram Dass, Being Ram Dass
Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.
~ David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
The animacy of the world is something we already know, but the language of animacy teeters on extinction — not just for Native peoples, but for everyone. Our toddlers speak of plants and animals as if they were people, extending to them self and intention and compassion — until we teach them not to. We quickly retrain them and make them forget. When we tell them that the tree is not a who, but an it, we make that maple an object; we put a barrier between us, absolving ourselves of moral responsibility and opening the door to exploitation. Saying it makes a living land into “natural resources.” If a maple is an it, we can take up the chain saw. If a maple is a her, we think twice.
… Learning the grammar of animacy could well be a restraint on our mindless exploitation of land. But there is more to it. I have heard our elders give advice like “You should go among the standing people” or “Go spend some time with those Beaver people.” They remind us of the capacity of others as our teachers, as holders of knowledge, as guides. Imagine walking through a richly inhabited world of Birch people, Bear people, Rock people, beings we think of and therefore speak of as persons worthy of our respect, of inclusion in a peopled world. We Americans are reluctant to learn a foreign language of our own species, let alone another species. But imagine the possibilities. Imagine the access we would have to different perspectives, the things we might see through other eyes, the wisdom that surrounds us. We don’t have to figure out everything by ourselves; there are intelligences other than our own, teachers all around us. Imagine how much less lonely the world would be.
~ Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass