At Full Moon Cottage, we are turning from the energy of these troubled days, not in rejection of their importance, but in the need to listen and meditate on what must happen next, and how, in our seemingly powerless confinement, we can contribute to the changes that must happen. Weeding the gardens, watering the gardens, following our cycles, pondering our lives. What shall we do?
We can say, definitively, that standing in front of a church holding a borrowed Bible, is not a viable option.
Years ago, we each had vanity plates on our cars. My little Bug was branded with CREATE, and Phillip’s sweet Jetta drove around flashing the word, WISDOM. They were always parked in our garage inviting us to “create wisdom,” first thing in the morning and when we arrived home from work.
I’ve been pondering wisdom stories from many traditions, turning them over, seeking direction. A profound wisdom story is like a profound work of art, bottomless in the inspiration and sustenance it offers. We take in their good, startling, challenging news, and, after years of effort, we hope they become us and speak through us, that we become part of them, that our lives become wisdom stories.
Halfway round the year from now, in the darkness of winter, many of us will speak of peace on earth and offer good will to all. In a boost of seasonal endorphins, we will forgive, connect, gift, and celebrate human communion. We will share comfort and contentment, as we gather merrily (virtually, or in person), to sing, and to invite greater light and love into our hearts, our lives, and the world. Borders will dissolve, arms will be set down, and truces called. We will honor stories of conversion from greed to generosity, and of welcoming strangers, and caring for the (otherwise) oppressed and neglected. So it has been, for centuries.
In spring, we’ll scrutinize injustice, death, and resurrection; we’ll celebrate earth’s and our own renewal.
Do we believe these choices and behaviors are only true and possible, for a time, in December and March? Aren’t wisdom stories, from all traditions, meant to be digested and integrated for all time?
Either it’s always Christmas, or it isn’t: Either we’re always faced with welcoming the stranger and expected to respond in love or we’re not.
Either it’s always Easter, or it’s not: Either we are always meant to witness and expose the persecution of the innocent and prevent crucifixion; to seek the resurrection of love, or we’re not.
We’re all the characters in these stories: we’re the innkeeper turning Love away or welcoming it in, strange and foreign as its presentation may seem to us.
We’re soldiers, crushing the life out of an innocent person, or animal, or earth, or we’re creating, sustaining, and celebrating the revival and renewal of life…
And we are also the victims, the strangers, the outcast, and murdered.
The changes that have to happen, that we march for and fight for, have to begin with each of us, every day. Who are we, at our core? Today? In this moment? What does our wisdom tell us? What wisdom are we creating?
The current anger is both justified and a gift. A hierarchy that uses its power and authority to permit the murder of innocent people, repeatedly, systemically, and freely, is bound to blow up, and deservedly so. And, when an innocent person, from a long-persecuted group, is murdered, after weeks of the entire society sustaining confinement in fear of dying from an invisible, mismanaged threat, while the economy is not tanking but tanked, and prospects for food, shelter, healthcare, and safety are diminishing, then a human response of exploding rage shouldn’t be a surprise.
It is joined by scores of other pent-up, legitimate, and justified litanies of anger that have boiled over:
The continued caging of those seeking refuge;
The murder of our children and their teachers;
The destruction of the earth and our fellow creatures;
The destabilization of our healthcare;
The escalation of grotesque economic inequality…
And, at the core of all these challenges, there is a rotten corruption of leadership that cannot claim intelligence, coherence, integrity, maturity, or wisdom as among its guiding principles. Thinking adults, in possession of language, decision-making skills, and an appreciation of social contracts and the greater good have not been in the room for a long time.
If we’re angry that our species is so willingly capable of evil and so outrageously free to commit acts that reflect it, then the proper response is to change and remember we are also capable of love, that our essence is love. The proper response is to act from other than the evil that we, ironically, protest. It is to actively, outrageously, earnestly and with integrity, love. That is the steel beneath Christmas and Easter, the foundation of so many wisdom stories: the noble and hard work of loving, hoping, transforming, and of making and being peace.
Controlled anger sparks a change in direction. Uncontrolled anger devours everything in its path:
This is how war begins.
We must stop.
Change course. Read our t-shirts and bumper stickers (co-exist; be the change you want to see; give peace a chance), and actually do what we say we are. Review our wisdom stories. Become them. Create new ones.
Outrage and controlled anger are cold water in the face, the clap of the hands, the impetus for change, but the change itself is only accomplished by the hard work of love, the true steel of peace. Which means that humans have to undertake the slog, but also the gift, of earnest listening, intelligent argument, deeper listening, writing and rewriting laws that push ideas forward into reality. And offer each other more listening. When the excitement of outrage, the heat of anger, and the energy of protest end–and they must and will–the hard work of the peacemakers and the change-makers begins. New wisdom stories must be written. And that is the work of us all. Time to begin. Stay safe and be well.