“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Robert F. Kennedy
What would it mean if we couldn’t breathe? That is a reasonably simple question because physiologically, we all know that we would cease to be. I remember as a kid the fearful feeling of having the wind knocked out of me…panicked trying to remember how to inhale. But what would it mean to live without the breath of Inspiration? That, I believe, is when our spirit or our inner fire fades, and life ceases to have a purpose. The wind gets knocked out of us, despair moves in, and the light goes out. Most of us have had experiences like this if we have been around long enough. Our lives thrive with Inspiration.
The word “Inspiration” comes from the Latin word inspirare, which means to draw in a breath and from Middle English, which relates the term to “divine guidance.” To some traditions, human origin mystically can be traced back to the book of Genesis when the spirit of life was breathed into form. To be inspired is to be filled with life and have breath for the journey. The two meanings are linked, and I believe living an inspired life is an essential Civil Grace, which allows us to see beyond our current situation to the horizons of what we are called to be.
Isn’t it interesting that the word Inspiration means to give breath, motivate, and do something creative? It is the belief in ourselves and others, to expect the best, to challenge and care about each other. Inspiration allows us to embrace the possible, to be awakened, and transcend. It is not just to be alive, but being alive for something as Winston Churchill would have declared. It is the foundation of our being.
Similarly, the foundational documents of our democracy were inspired by ideas that we could build a new world together and a new way of governing. It is quite incredible if you think of it all. We agreed to work for the betterment of all humanity without putting our power into something above us. It was never perfect, but if you read the words of the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution, you will know the individuals who put those ideas into meaning struggled through each stanza to choose words that captured the deeper intent. They did it because they were inspired to find a better way. We read about the giants at that time: Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and others, but there were many well before who asked the more critical questions of our existence and what gives meaning to life. Those early discourses created the space for that conversation that led to “we hold these truths as self-evident.” These ideals constantly evolved and were redefined by the next period of enlightenment and continue today in our current dialogue. When we feel discouraged, we can take hope from the fact that Inspiration will arise if we continue to ask profound questions about our existence and take creative action.
My husband, Vince, and I were inspired to start a community organization called the “Little Barn of Big Ideas” on our farm. We wanted to create a space where people can come together as neighbors and brainstorm about the big ideas in our community and how we can use our talents, build resources, and make a positive impact in areas where we are passionate. It is our belief that we are not a divided nation…we are diverse, and that is going to be the key to changing the current climate of our country and our world. We believe the issues of the world will be solved by small groups of people coming together to create the changes we seek. Every one of us has a purpose–we refer to that as your genius. Our goal is to create the space for Inspiration, engagement, and uplifting of the human spirit so people will launch their purpose into the world. It has been exciting to see our community light up just by the idea that we can use what we have to make things better. We don’t have to wait for something outside of ourselves.
One thing I hear lately is everyone talking about “the good ole days,” as if the best years are behind us. While there is no doubt that memories are often sweeter than the actual encounter, we are living in extraordinary times right now! We have so many opportunities and possibilities to be Inspired. The communication revolution has changed the way we can connect, and the speed of sharing ideas is beyond what we could have imagined just a decade ago. It truly is brilliant as much as it is overwhelming! The Civil Grace of Inspiration reminds us to take a breath and receive the spirit of the wonders of it all. Allow yourself to see the possibilities despite the dismal news that may crowd your mind and look for the ways you can open your imagination to a more just, peaceful, and abundant world for all. Anything is possible when you hold the Civil Grace of Inspiration.
So what is your big idea? Write it down and take an inspired leap toward it every day.
photo credit: “Moonrise” by Vince Moro. This was the Wolf Moon…the first moon of 2020 on the horizon over our pond at Chadds Peak Farm.