Every spiritual path speaks of the importance of some form of sacred activism. Buddhists talk about compassion and social engagement. Indigenous cultures value the good of the whole – even to the point of saying, “No one is free until all are free.” Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachings speak of mercy, loving kindness, and doing justice.
In our culture, the word “justice” seems to be about punishment and making sure people pay for their crimes. But there is a bigger meaning to the word. It has to do with addressing systems and institutions that dis-empower people. It’s about making sure that all people have access to the things they need in order to live a healthy life.
For many people, the practice of charity is easier than the long-term work for justice. It feels good!
I invite you to join me Sunday to explore more deeply the practices of charity, service, and justice (and how participating in the CROP Walk on Sunday after church incorporates all three!)
PS – a quote to ponder: “Charity is about giving a hungry person some bread, while justice is about trying to change the system so that nobody has excess bread while some have none; charity is about treating your neighbors with respect, while justice is about trying to get at the deeper roots of racism; and charity is about helping specific victims of war, while justice is about trying to change the things in the world that ultimately lead to war…” ~Ronald Rolheiser
Every day I reach a new end to my own knowledge and strength. My habits of trying to figure things out, controlling situations and forcing my opinion ultimately prove to fall short, and I’m left in a place of frustration and limitedness. It’s easy to create a story in these times about how difficult life is, and that I have to struggle for the things that I need, but I’ve found throughout my life that the times when I reach the end of my own capabilities are opportunities for Grace to work in my life.
Grace is an aspect of the spiritual that I think many of us don’t recognize. It is an inflowing of exactly what we need at the time that we need it. It comes to us freely, and without invitation. In my experience the most common times that Grace is seen are the times when I surrender my own vision of how life needs to be, and open myself to receive a new vision, or wisdom, or understanding of my best next step.
On Sunday I’ll talk more about this, and tell a couple of stories to illustrate how Grace has manifested in my life.
Many spiritual teachers today have tried to get the message across that it is time to stop looking for an external savior of some kind and to recognize that each of us carries divinity within us. I think many more people have really connected with that idea in recent times, as evidenced partly in the numbers of people who say they are “spiritual but not religious.”
I think there is another step we are being asked to take in our spiritual/human journeys: to learn how to do community with a bunch of beautifully diverse embodiments of the Divine (and that ain’t always the easy!)!
Andrew Harvey has suggested that the “2nd Coming of Christ” will be when humanity becomes a whole divine community. Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama have both said, the Buddha will come as a community, not as an individual. So now, the question is, “How can we go there together?”
We have this amazing opportunity to explore and imagine and practice and create and become an incredible divine expression of a Beloved Community, radiating huge Love to the world! How can we go there together?
I have been thinking a lot about meaning lately, both in terms of my own life, as well as in our world. I am particularly pondering Mark Nepo’s words in The Endless Practice:
“In the face of this gritty, mysterious, and ever-changing dynamic we call being alive, it’s nothing short of heroic that we are asked to choose life and living, again and again. Not just to put a good face on things while we’re here, but because saying yes to life is how the worm inches its way through earth. It’s how salmon leap their way upstream. It’s how flowers grow out of stone. The word for such flowers, “saxifrage,” from the Latin, means “stone breaker.” Saying yes is the way the flower of the soul breaks through the stone of the world.”
Sunday’s talk is about meaning and opening our hearts, again and again, and saying yes to life. All of it.
Sunday is our last summer service this year and—weather permitting—we will celebrate it in Unity’s beautiful back yard.
We will call ourselves together with drumming. You can drum, if you like, or use your hands or feet for rhythm—or you can simply listen and be present and allow the heartbeat of the drums to synchronize our energy in the sacred circle.
We will sing together.
We will be quiet and commune with Nature together.
My talk topic is “circles.” Rumi said, “Step out of the circle of time and into the circle of love.”
I invite you to reflect on the wisdom and the sacred power generated in circles in all kinds of ways and on all kinds of levels… prayer circles, women’s circles, ceremonial circles, music circles, discernment circles, medicine wheels, mandalas, circles of protection, and more.
Jean Shinoda Bolen says, “The vessel for personal and planetary evolution is the circle with a spiritual center.”
Have a beautiful week-end wherever you are!