Sacred Activism brings my lifetime of experience into the main current of a strongly flowing river. I have spent much of my life stuck on the bank, unable to jump into the flow and to speak my truth for fear of capsizing someone else’s boat and thus threatening the stability of my own. I diminished myself with waves of false pride and inflated humility.
As was pointed out at the May 2006 Seattle Sacred Activism Conference sponsored by Wisdom University, to be a Sacred Activist requires community. Like the butterfly’s imaginal cells in a caterpillar’s cocoon, we need countless others like us to stand up to the resistance of the old ways of being. We need to inspire and encourage each other. So Sacred Activism gives me many jobs to do in addition to expressing myself personally. Sometimes I need to hold the tiller, sometimes read the compass or hoist the sail. Occasionally I may even serve as the Belgian Schipperke, barking the rats away from the barge. I need the support of my comrades and they need me to “exhort, compel, guide and inspire everyone of us to become…tender hearted…fire-walkers…” ( paraphrased from Andrew Harvey/ Spirituality and Health magazine, Sept/Oct 2006.)
And step onto those glowing coals I must. Will you come with me?
( Experience the song by Jean Anthony that inspired this painting “Reaching for the Last Hemlock”. )
At the Seattle Conference, Barbara Marx Hubbard was one of the speakers. Her description of what she knew as an adolescent reflected my own childhood knowing. She calls it conscious evolution which she describes as: part of the trajectory of human evolution, the canvas of choice before us now as we recognize that we have come to possess the powers that we used to attribute to the gods…We are poised in this critical moment, facing decisions that must be made consciously if we are to avoid destroying the world as we know it, if we are instead to cocreate a future of immeasurable possibilities. Our conscious evolution is an invitation to ourselves, to open to that positive future, to see ourselves as one planet, and to learn to use our powers wisely and ethically for the enhancement of all life on Earth.
I see the planet, the universe, the whole of IT as my lineage. I am an ancestor, we are all ancestors of the future and as a person alive now, I contribute to evolution by my choices.
As an only child of intellectual, unhappy and reserved parents, in a family with no reverence for ancestry or extended family, where the only mention of God was to disparage religion, I “grew myself up” befriended by the wood beyond my backyard. I had no human mentors to validate my reality which included the sentience of the non-human. But the world validated that for me. The willow was my best friend, snowflakes my wisdom makers, the compost heap my fecund mystery, my dog, the stars, the lily of the valley in the cellar window wells, all these were my boon companions.
One day in the early 1950’s, after the school bus had dropped me off at the top of the hill, I realized something was horribly wrong as I walked down toward home. It took me a few moments to “see.” On that afternoon blue sky rose above the roof of my house. That morning dark green had framed it, the crowns of maple, elm, tulip and ash, a few centuries old mixed deciduous eastern forest. During my school day, the wood behind my house had been clear cut to make room for the first ticky-tacky housing development in the western suburbs of Philadelphia…no warning, just gone. In an instant, I lost my bearings, my bedrock, my family without so much as an apology.
I’m not sure why I share that particular story again. Perhaps because the loss of the wood symbolizes the lack of engagement from which we modern, urban humans suffer… kept just below the surface of our consciousness that loss is fundamental, alienating, and ubiquitous. The cutting of trees in one swoop, the harvesting of fish in a mile long net, the leveling of complete mountain tops, gunning down wild creatures from helicopters, all reveal our lack of awareness that our lives depend on the complex interdependency of everything around us. When we rape a landscape and pillage a species, we violate ourselves.
Isn’t it time to choose more loving, joy-filled, play-full possibilities? That’s my call to you to be a Sacred Activist.