It is, therefore, the sacred duty of every individual human soul to be utterly and completely itself—to be that jewel at that time and in that place, and to be that jewel utterly. It is in this way—merely by being itself—that one jewel holds together its own particular corner of Space and Time. The action of each individual soul holds together the entire net. Small and large at the same time.”― Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling
Staying home these past weeks to honor the efforts to flatten the curve and spread of the coronavirus has been filled with moments sacred and mundane. The rhythm of the hours beats as we go about our day cleaning up from one meal to the next. The hot bubbly water in my hands as I wash the dishes, usually a mundane task, brings peace in my heart. These small chores we do each day become a comfort as larger questions swirl in our minds. Aside from the practical matter of keeping things tidy, there is a sense of harmony created by these simple acts–quiet security that at least we can do something to contribute even if it is small and insignificant.
However, in the back of my mind is this nagging feeling that I should be doing something more, something higher than just domestic tasks and the work of my employment each day. The world is changing around us, and being removed from the flow can be unsettling if you have the spirit of a change agent within you. It is challenging just sitting at home because I feel things stirring underneath the surface. Exploring different opportunities online, reading books on finding your dharma, and searching for a place in the world to express meaning but just not seeing it can feel like life is drifting day by day. It is like fishing, and I have never been patient enough to fish. When I was younger, my brothers used to let me tag along, but soon regretted it when they realized I couldn’t sit still. I like to see things moving and getting better. However, the messages I keep coming across are about deepening right now. Be patient. Be quiet and wait on the will of Heaven.
So many of the people we call “great” today were just individuals who let go of the way they thought life should be and embraced the sacredness of simplicity. They found the drumbeat of their hearts by listening intently, and when its rhythm arose, then they began to create. One of the people Stephen Cope talks about in his book quoted above is Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau wanted to be a great writer and early in his career moved to New York City to hang out with the big names of the time. He couldn’t make anything happen, and finally went back home to Concord, where he took up residence at Walden Pond. Cope explains that it was here in this small place he was able to explore his soul and write the words that inspired people for generations to come–like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and me. Thoreau’s lines about “advancing confidently in the direction of your dreams” have been my lifelong mantra. Ironic that he became small to uncover his more significant work. Countless jewels in the history of the world did just that…small acts of great love and quiet humility.
We are all jewels in the net of life as Cope quotes–each holding our space and time, which allows the whole to stay together. Right now, that may mean staying at home to tend to the tasks and hearts there, so we are ready when the call comes. The moments we feel impatient and small are times to get quiet and take in what is trying to give birth. We are the midwives of a new journey for our world, and by getting honest about ourselves and what we love, we will be able to understand not only how we may serve, but the deeper meaning of our lives. We may discover that it is right in front of us. Oscar Wilde wrote, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” We each came here to expand and bring unique expressions to life by sorting through what stirs our hearts and what we know needs to change. We are at a profound time when we can decide in big and small ways how we will show up in the new world, and what our great work will be. Who is the Self that is emerging?
I encourage you to spend time in nature if you are able and write the ideas that come to you as you reconnect to your soul. Observe how you feel when you are doing simple acts for those you love each day. Notice how the mundane can become profound and how the little things we do make a difference. We are all called to greatness in big and small ways, and the joy of our lives is finding out how we shall express it.
Photo credit: Vince Moro, Chartres Cathedral, France. Fall 2019