Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.
Do justly now.
Love mercy now.
Walk humbly now.
You are not obligated to complete the work,
But neither are you free
To abandon it.
On a Saturday morning not long ago, a yoga instructor shared these words, attributed to the Talmud, to center the minds and hearts of those of us in her class.
It had been a hot summer week that was particularly fraught in our democracy. We released a collective sigh at these words of comfort. I also sensed a twinge of uneasiness at the reminder that we were not to become too comfortable. No, we were not free to do that.
Every wisdom tradition offers reminders like these -- about our responsibilities to each other; exhortations not to abandon one another. History across the ages and global cultures has provided us with ample examples of the terrible things that happen when humans have chosen not to heed these appeals or have twisted their meaning. And so it is true for us in this moment.
In their exploration of the life and death realities of our current global crises, Savage Grace: Living Resiliently in the Dark Night of the Globe, Andrew Harvey and Carolyn Baker say, “The necessity in our time demands that we listen to all [spiritual traditions] for whatever guidance they can offer us in what is the defining evolutionary crisis of our entire human journey.”
I more frequently find myself combing through the six Sources of our living Unitarian Universalist tradition seeking such words of guidance and comfort. Words of reminding. I am grateful we have such a deep well to draw from.
But not only that. It encourages my heart to know that humans everywhere and from all sorts of beliefs have long desired to live ethically and for the highest good of all. It is a sliver of light, even as we have succumbed to fears that have driven us to live at odds with one another and the planet. At odds with the wisdom teachings of our ancient traditions.
And so now we live with the creations of our fears.
How might we cease living at odds with our deepest, heart-centered wisdom? What I am certain of is that it requires something of us: courage, resilience, steadfastness, integrity. The understanding that we are not free to abandon this work.
Contemplation ~ In what ways might I bring all my relationships, and the activity of my mind and hands, into alignment with the essential wisdom residing in my heart?