Not only do we live in a living universe, but the living universe lives within us.
— Duane Elgin
Years ago during a Monday night dance class, I remember feeling discouraged about the destruction of our living, blue-green Earth. My job at the time was to help WA manufacturers use fewer toxics and generate less waste. It was ambitious work and progress seemed desperately slow.
I felt like a tiny kayak pushing against the flank of a massive freighter - small, insignificant, alone. Discouraged, I danced into the heart of my grief and pushed my hands against the freighter-like studio wall, fear and rage firing my muscles. It all seemed too much to bear.
Even though it still feels too much to bear sometimes, things are shifting for me...
I recently held the very first All Hearts on Deck Monday Night Subtle Activism Practice Group. Olympia was luxuriating in a sublimely warm and beautiful spring evening which arrived like a blessing after months of Northwest rain, ice, and even some snow.
I was certain nobody would come indoors to join my meditation!
But one courageous woman showed up, voting with her body, committing her attention and time. We drank the potent nectar of companionship. We helped each other bear the grief and fear. We encouraged each other to keep caring and daring. We gathered strength.
Anchored in our shared concern, our interwoven prayers deepened to embrace the world. We became an unstoppable wellspring of radiant compassion.
We felt connected to and grateful for each other and all the people around the world we knew were leaning in with heart, soul, and shoulder. We were not alone.
Click Here for more info about the "All Hearts on Deck" Subtle Activism Practice Group
Next Meeting is Monday, March 26
When we draw on a sense of fellowship, belonging, and connection, it is as if we are remembering our root system. This is the power-with, which comes from the larger circle that we can draw on, that acts through us." - - Joanna Macy
What motivation will sustain you?
Awakened activism is not about right or wrong, should or should not. Life is much too Mysterious for such absolutes, and rules much too unreliable. Besides, self-righteousness can be so exhausting, no? Perhaps we can look to love...
What does my love of my brown-skinned friend, or an aging or mentally-ill relative, or a struggling single mother call me to do?
What actions do my love of the patient heron, the restless river, the ancient cedars, the regal elk, and the golden dragonfly dare me to take?
Without the connective threads of love I have no compass, and life cannot penetrate me and grow me up. Love gives my actions meaning, direction. In the long run, we may find that only love offers a sustainable motivation.
What if I slipped off the heavy cloak of separation and bathed in the wondrous and wild ocean of my embeddedness in Life?
What if I let myself be consumed by love and awe?
If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear. People who can open to the web of life that called us into being."
Because I believe we are ultimately here to dance—to live our uniqueness fully and with joy. I also believe we are here to grow into mature human adulthood. My sense is that these are the same thing.
Contemplative practices can help illuminate our conditioning, and as old constrictions loosen their grip we become increasingly liberated to follow our authentic impulses. Loving ourselves, loving life, and serving life, can co-evolve as we increasingly embody the vast spectrum of who and what we truly are.
Below is one of my favorite quotes for inspiration. If you are ready to take this journey of all journeys, and to share your unique dance in celebration and service, then I'm right here to support you.
In 1943, De Mille was hired to choreograph the musical Oklahoma!, which became an overnight sensation and ran for a record-setting 2,212 performances. Feeling that critics and the public had long ignored work into which she had poured her heart and soul, De Mille found herself dispirited by the sense that something she considered “only fairly good” was suddenly hailed as a “flamboyant success.” Shortly after the premiere, she met Graham “in a Schrafft’s restaurant over a soda” for a conversation that put into perspective her gnawing grievance and offered what De Mille considered the greatest thing ever said to her. She recounts the exchange:
I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be.
Martha Graham (Photograph: Barbara Morgan)
Martha said to me, very quietly: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. As for you, Agnes, you have so far used about one-third of your talent.”
“But,” I said, “when I see my work I take for granted what other people value in it. I see only its ineptitude, inorganic flaws, and crudities. I am not pleased or satisfied.”
“No artist is pleased.”
“But then there is no satisfaction?”
“No satisfaction whatever at any time,” she cried out passionately. “There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”
Margit Bantowksy, MA, is an artist, coach, teacher and facilitator.