We begin a new Fellowship year together. We begin again. This is the hallmark of the religious life, and of most spiritual practice. To begin again and again and again. Our starting place this year is challenging, to say the least. We still face incredible devastation of the life systems of the earth. We face undeniable calls for more justice, for more people. We face political movements in our country which are hard. To say that the year ahead of us requires courage is almost an understatement.
Yet, what a great gift is the call of this year. A call to courage, to pay attention to the most important things. To say that we are entering a brave year means that we have an opportunity to examine our lives, to look again for what is most important and most life-giving for ourselves and for others. Outside of us, the challenges are huge, and sometimes feel overwhelming and insurmountable. Yet, more often than not we move into these challenges with strength and courage, because of our convictions, because of the values we share, and because we have each other, so that we can work hand in hand.
What is asked of us this year is harder, I think. More challenging than all calls to action combined, the brave year ahead of us is a call to self-examination and dedicated practice. It is the inner life that calls us now. This is what the great sages have always tried to say. In the ever-present face of death, and of greed and selfishness and war, in the ever-present face of our own destructive and negative capacities, how do we find and nurture the sources of peace and compassion within us, which are the deepest needs of the world? It is one thing to respond to calls to action out of anger, and frustration, and fear, and self-righteousness. These common motivators bring with them a sense of strength, and they do help or allow us to accomplish certain aims, it is true. But when we work out of anger, frustration, fear or self-righteousness, we also simply add more of these things into the world. We add more anger, and frustration, and fear and self-righteousness, which breed more of the same.
I am making a commitment this year. I will devote more of my time to my inner life and resources. I will try to learn more about my own angers and fears. This practice is not something I will simply add to my schedule – it is not another way to do more. I hope that with practice I will become better at doing less that means more.
Will you join me? Will you undertake this brave year too? Shall we help one another?
See you Sunday! Jill