This is my dream—that all people open their eyes to the sacred energy in each other, and in the earth, in a way that would make God smile. As I say this, I know readers will raise their eyebrows and think this is improbable, if not impossible. They will say that most dreamers like Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi found out what that leads to and that was hate. But each planted an idea that put down roots and grew so that people remembered them for their goodness and their belief in our goodness and in their dreams. And the haters didn’t win.
Listen, said the voice.
This is your dream.
Don’t be afraid.
from “Banyan” by Mary Oliver
Today, the haters are grabbing the attention of the world in acts so heinous we cry, we pray, we wail in sorrow and we forget the purpose of our dreams. Yet, the energy of hope, frail as it is, survives. And people like Clarissa Pinkola Estes remind us, in their writing, that “We Were Made for these Times.” In her essay, she asks us to “…please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Do not lose hope.” She believes we have been practicing and learning in order to “meet on this exact plain of engagement.”
We know that civility is at a low ebb, yet there are many of us who yearn to start conversations with others who do not seem of like mind. This is not a futile effort. All souls are united in the basic nature of energy. The most important thing is that we engage in small acts, one at a time, wherever it seems possible. We can unite souls of good will in a larger spiritual effort to be loving and to help those who suffer. The man who carried a gun deliberately to a park and attempted to murder the people there was a man most knew as kind, funny, hard-working and a part of the community. They knew he railed against what he saw as the inequality rampant in our country, but they didn’t engage him in conversation. They felt it was best to not speak of it. Most of these same people didn’t know he’d been living out of a gym bag at the “Y” for months. Even those who made contact with him knew, but didn’t ask why. What if one soul had seen his soul? What if one person had offered him friendship? We are often so alone in the world. This does not excuse what he did—it just points out the number of people in the world who are living in an empty space of blame, lack, and eventually, dark actions.
We react deeply in this country because we believe we are different. We are not the bombers who blow themselves up and take the theatre with them. We are not armies that steal the riches while the children starve to death. We see them on television and they are not us. But when we descend into hate, fueled by difference in economic class, political party or ideology, we make room for the dark forces. When we take responsibility for our silence, and give voice to what is happening in the world of civility, judgment and anger, we do make a difference. It has to be so.
In the beginning everything was in relationship, and in the end everything
will be in relationship again. In the meantime, we live by hope.
Jean Lanier, from “The Second Coming.”
The impetus in life is towards wholeness, not towards fragmentation. When people run forward to help when others are in trouble, this is the energy of the Sacred. When we feel our connectedness even when someone is different from us; that is the energy of the Sacred. Every day it is incumbent on us to look deep, find the Sacred spark in us, and ask: “What can I do today to strengthen that part of me?” We aren’t going to be Gandhi—at least, not usually—but we will make a difference as we connect with all those others reaching inside for the Sacred. Hate doesn’t make us feel good. Love and acceptance and hope do make us feel good. The world is, as I always teach, made up of energy. Each one of us is responsible for our part of it. Will it be negativity or positivity that we send out to the world? As Clarissa said, “we were made for these times.” We are ready to be what God asks of us—carriers of the Sacred. We are ready to acknowledge the heart and sacred soul of each man, woman and child and give them our best. If they have chosen evil, we cannot help. But those who choose that way are in a minority. It is the small everyday meanness that we can change—in ourselves first, and then in others. Let’s have a conversation about that.
Everyone knows the great energies running amok cast
terrible shadows, that each of the so-called senseless acts
has its thread looping back through the world
and into a human heart.
Mary Oliver from “Shadows”
If, in our lifetimes, we change the trajectory of one human heart, we have fulfilled our dream of sowing love. For that heart will change another, and another, and another…