Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Take heart; give heart

"Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach."

I've found great comfort in this admonition since the first time I came across it in an issue of Heron Dance several years ago. I freely admit that there are times when I lose my footing and just weep when I witness violence against others, whether through the news or across the fence that divides my home from the family next door.

I'm learning to find new ways to offer grace and compassion where suffering reigns, but it's not easy; it's not meant to be. We are called into discernment, and I choose to be attentive to that. It helps me to think creatively when responding to events that marginalize or suppress the rights of others. Sometimes it's enough to simply take a deep breath and pray; sometimes it requires much more. And so I take the time to read the rest of this passage from Heron Dance to remind myself of our shared responsibility in helping to lighten the load.

"Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take 'everyone on Earth' to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of the soul in shadowy times like these- to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it."

Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, from Do Not Lose Heart

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