What is Sacred Activism – Part 2

It seems propitious to be reflecting on what sacred activism means to me on an uncommonly hot summer afternoon in the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday I heard from a Montana friend that the water level is dropping in Flathead Lake, the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi River. I immediately asked if it was caused by high irrigation use. “Oh no,” she replied. “It’s evaporating.”

Sacred activism is the only path I can see for opening our hearts and writing a new human storyline in response to climate change, one that allows us to contribute consciously to the evolution of our species.

Because I have no choice about living according to my clearest truth, I have risked my economic livelihood to honor my integrity. I am rich beyond measure. Years ago, I already knew I would have no regrets on my death bed, an evolutionary shift for me and my lineage since both my parents died regretting that they had never fully lived because of their fears: lack of money and looking like a fool were the two primary plot lines that trapped them.

Sacred activism means living a life full of risk. Many of us do not want to risk opening our hearts to protect ourselves from feeling grief. And yet without willingness to grieve we cannot fully live wholeheartedly.

Opening the heart also leads to compassion. Compassions means to me that I feel the blow when another is struck. Imagine the power of compassion to change absolutely everything.

Opening the heart may also look like being a fool to someone else. Then the ego has to engage with shame. Myths have come to us through the ages about that risky kind of love. Kissing the frog and falling in love with the hag are two themes that come to mind. But remember magical outcomes occur when we’re willing to commit our boundless love, put our trusting selves on the line no matter what.

I remember back in the early 1980’s when I was still serving as a psychotherapist, one of my clients was a tough guy – a black hearted, grey hooded, obese, acne cheeked, dull eyed, knife holding adolescent punk who wouldn’t give me the time of day. Yet week after week he came to my office and sat, mostly mute. One day my heart melted. Overwhelming warmth and maternal compassion flooded me and spilled over on him. I don’t remember moving a muscle, scarcely breathing, but he felt it happening and looked up. He saw my expression and our two pairs of eyes brimmed with tears. We were both changed in a split second by wordless communion.

That’s sacred activism.

It happens with non-human creatures as well. One day on a beach I flooded with love for a spider. I’d been watching it through a high powered jeweler’s lens. Suddenly the spider looked up at me through the glass – we saw eye to eye – it raised its two front legs as if in prayer and I got the message: Stop invading my privacy. I felt not only compassion but shame. What gives me the right to treat another life with disrespect?

That’s sacred activism.

grounding gaia (800x800)

Discipline is part of sacred activism too. Can you remain centered in love when all is chaos and anger around you? I participated in several peace marches over the years and noticed every time that they didn’t embody peace. The use of the word ‘march’ reveals the confused point of view. The chants they sang were militant. I just couldn’t join in because the staccato beat, raised voices and challenging words were combative, spewed under the guise of song. At one point, I stood practically nose to billy club with a guard a foot taller than I. We were unable to move, jammed together midst the mad swirl of chanting peace marchers. I knew I had to make a quick decision. I chose to breathe deeply, closed my eyes for a few seconds and remembered what I knew about love. Opening my eyes, I began singing only for him. Not a chant, not a love song written by someone else, but my own spontaneous song sharing the story of how I came to be standing in front of his billy club protected chest. I shared my story of being afraid and imagined he was too, told about my family and imagined his, expressed my dream of a world where we all had food on the table and shelter over our heads and enough money…I sang and I sang and I tried and I tried to make eye contact but his eyes were hidden behind the bill of his baseball cap. I never did see them before the spell was broken by an enraged peace walker. What I saw instead were tears rolling down his cheeks.

That’s sacred activism.

In another few days, I’ll return with Part 3.

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About Deborah

Deborah Jane Milton, Ph.D. is an artist, mentor, and eco-psychologist, mother of four and grandmother of eight.
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