My heart has been breaking over and over this week. It's been interesting to dive deep and realise that it's breaking for love, especially for my fellow human beings, realising there is a lot more good in the world than bad, and when disaster happens, people are more willing to help than they are to loot, plunder and be self absorbed. At least, that's what I'm seeing in my own country, and I'd like to think it's the same everywhere. It's all too easy to focus on the bad news about humanity over the good - but focus on the good I must, because the beauty is there, amongst the horror.
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me
This post won't share the corpses of cows and wombats, or the burnt homes and razed forests, the politicians forcing people to shake hands for photographs when they don't want to, or whose fault it is. I've had far too much of that this week, and so instead, I would rather fill the post with images of good, because despite all of what's going on, there is still so much good.
And so I have cried for the wonderful things that have happened this week. The young men walking through burnt wastelands with the express purpose of rescuing wildlife - an estimated 8000 of them have died in the fires. The muscled fireman picking up tiny possums that rush to them for help, cradling them proudly in woolly hats. The locals leaving notes on their houses for people to help themselves. The millions of dollars raised. The Air BNB's opened for free, the telco allowing free calls from phone boxes and waiving bills, the people hosting those who've lost everything, the tired fireman with charcoaled eyes still going, despite losing their own houses, lack of sleep and food and assistance. The baby kangaroo years ago rescued by a family to leave, only to come back with it's family knowing it will be cared for as it's world bursts into flame.
And in the midst of all of this, I still feel powerless and sad. Miles from the fires, I want to help but can do nothing but donate money to add to the pot of millions coming in from all over the world in our time of need. But it's not just the fires - there's the threat of war with Iran. There's the endless political blame game and heartless leaders who, even as this is going on, continue with plans for coal mines. There's floods in Indonesia. And closer to home, a good friend is dying of cancer, with weeks, perhaps days to live, and everything becomes totally unbearable. What do we in the face of this? In tears to a good friend of mine who's not far from the fires and is on 'Watch and Act', she promises to send me a link to something that came her way this week. I'd love to share it with you all, and hope you draw the comfort that I did from it.
My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
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. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
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 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. If you would help to calm the tumult, 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.
By Clarissa Pinkola Estes - American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.
And so, I continue to realign and redirect myself to mending the part of the world that is within my reach, taking solace in the tiny actions I can take to ease suffering or to at least cause as little harm as possible in the spirit of ahimsa. Cumulative acts mean everything - I'm focussing on all the generous, kind acts I've seen over and over again this week, the beautiful generosity of human beings, the love they show one another, despite their political leanings. There are so many people displaying the lanterns of their souls - are you one of them?
All photographs are in the public domain, freely available via Google and Twitter searches. Whilst I usually credit all my images, I am overwhelmed by seeing so much destruction, and I think there are more important things to focus on right now. Much love.