I have been silenced. In response to the enormity of what has happened to this country. How the past several decades’ of political posturing, decline of civil discourse, disregard for truth has ultimately led to this period of utter unconsciousness on the part of so many. The causes run deep. The impact defies comprehension. And I, to borrow a phrase from a sister-writer, have turtled.
But turtling is not a healthy response. It is not what I feel, what I want to do or how I want to be. It feels more shameful to remain silent than to urge beauty and peace where I can, as small and insignificant as that urge may seem in the enormity of so much ugliness and despair.
Thankfully I have been snapped out of this especially dark doldrum by the wise words of two wonderful women writers I value:
“In a time of destruction, create something: a poem, a parade, a community, a school, a vow, a moral principle; one peaceful moment.” —Maxine Hong Kingston
“In a time lacking in truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no woman should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world, through her work, a portion of its lost heart.” – Louise Borgan
And with that, I recalled the intensely powerful words of another beacon of consciousness, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who post-2008 election (remember THAT one?!!!) penned the following inspirational and important words. I offer them here that you, too, may remember to stand on deck, and let our shining souls spark one another back into the light.
… In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency too to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails. We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear…
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. 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 soul in shadowy times like these; to be fierce and to show mercy towards 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. If you would help to calm the tumults, this is one of the strongest things you can do…
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall:
“When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe,
there can be no doubt.
But that is not what great ships are built for.”
This comes with much love and a prayer that you remember who you came from and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth.
By Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D, from ‘Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times’ (Jan 28, 2008)