A couple of years ago, I was preparing a sermon for the Old Time Good Spell Feri Pagan Tent Revival and it was going great. We had a gig coming up at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos. It was the second or third time we’d visited there and I knew what to expect. We had to clean up the language a bit from our usual “halle-f**-lujah” stuff, and do some more explanation of how it worked, but the UUs were good hosts and we enjoyed our time there.
So I was writing along and thinking I was quite clever at coming up with the idea of “Don’t Go Back to Sleep” as a subject for a Revival and I got the whole sermon buttoned up and asked my husband (teacher/poet/beloved/priest/idea man) to give it a listen. He did so, attentively at first, but clearly he lost interest just a few minutes in.
I know when this happens because he starts to chew on the edges of his mustache.
But he let me finish and finally said, “Okay, that’s a good intellectual exploration, but where’s your heart in this?”
He was right, of course. I was writing out of my head because the subject was really painful. I didn’t want to try to convince other folks to not “go back to sleep”; I wanted to find reasons why it was okay to pull the blankets back over our heads and hide. But that’s not my job, is it? I don’t want that to be my job.
When I started this blog, I was fired up about the idea of the Homestead. I’ve been shifting my life, my work, my practice toward more resiliency and responsibility for a lot of years and it felt like a good time to start recording some of these things in case they might be of service to others.
And I find myself in resistance to writing now, which I can only credit to a desire to hide and stay safe. I don’t want to write about what’s true down deep. Too painful, but I can’t cry.
Here’s the treadmill my mind/heart is running on: Brutal, systemic racism. Rampant destruction of the natural order. Ignorance and hate and plain meanness. Unfathomable choices of those “in power”. Even among the more enlightened among us, hurtful speech and knee-jerk defensiveness.
I feel hopeless.
Then I am reminded that the hardest part of childbirth is just before the baby is born. It’s a crucial time and the Mother’s life can hang in the balance. She is working so very, very hard to bring new life, a new ethos, into the world.
As a cell in the body of God, my job is to help the birth along, to utilize my skills in service to the whole. I know how to make food out of animals. I can do that. I know how to open to awareness of the spirits I share space with. That is particularly painful because the land is in pain, but I can do that. I don’t know how to be what someone else is and stand on the front lines of this or that conflict, but I know how to ask how I can help. I can do that.
And finally, in the prayer that is writing, long-sought tears come.
Thank you, Mother, for your many blessings. Your lessons are always apropos.
What to do with infinite love and wild pain?
It is what it is; cook with it and pray with it and walk with it and write.
Remember that We are in this together.
“Light at the End of the Tunnel” image courtesy of shutterstock.com