“It is in the depths of your life that you will discover the invisible necessity that has brought you here. When you begin to decipher this, your gift and giftedness come alive. Your heart quickens and the urgency of living rekindles your creativity.”― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
In light of all that is happening, you may feel like I do at times–overwhelmed and wanting to disengage. It is difficult to know our place in the scheme of it all. So many say, “I am done with people,” and a little part of me at times agrees. Sometimes it is just too much, and it even seems dangerous to engage in specific settings right now. How can one follow the roller coaster of world events in a time of political unrest, civil digression, economic and racial injustices, and an out-of-control pandemic even to envision common ground? How can we still do our part when it seems like this is much bigger than any of us can solve? How do we know when and how to act from wholeness in a world pushed apart?
My last post was about reclaiming our power and the importance of staying engaged. However, if we will be successful in enduring the challenges ahead of us, we have to insert another word, discernment. Discernment comes from the idea of separating, which might seem so contrary to the premise of the Civil Graces Project, which focuses on inclusion and healing. However, if you go to the heart of the word, to discern is to see for sure what is there. It is the ability to separate the fact from the fiction. It is about raising our consciousness to find what is essential and how we can help make things better. It is listening to that still small voice within us–the voice in children’s tales called our conscience. What we know to be true often can be felt in our core. We just have a feeling about something that it is real. In a world of conspiracy theories and lies, this is our sixth sense that something isn’t adding up, and it causes us to question. It leads us further on a path to pursue the truth.
Discernment is a gift that develops with practice and keeping a mind open to receive both ideas and inspiration. It is fostered when we consider different points of view, have dialogue with each other, and sift through concepts. Civil discourse is a key component to strengthening a discerning mind. It is like trying something on to see how it feels. We often discredit our feelings as purely emotional, but modern science has dispelled that myth. Our emotions and senses are a part of our inner knowing process. They are powerful indicators of what has truth for us, and yet, discernment becomes stunted if we only feed from the same sources. We have to explore and be courageous in finding ways to develop our knowledge and understanding. We cannot allow ourselves to be limited by “group think” or closed off to other options even when we find offense. Sometimes something that offends us is an area where we need to heal or expand our awareness.
We live in the dichotomy of having boundaries that protect and also knowing when we need to grow. Discernment is necessary for staying focused on the work that is required of us in this moment. With the ability to discuss online, we often get pulled into the political sway, and what is political becomes extremely personal. We need to discern that our opinions don’t belong to anyone but ourselves. We don’t have to spend our lives trying to make everyone else comfortable nor agree. We each are unique and have gifts to bear in our diversity. It is what makes our lives worth living–our unique perspectives and purpose. We can create a vision of life, community, and politics rooted in our meaning and purpose without the overwhelm.
Many are calling these times revolutionary when we have a choice between love or fear. Do we have the courage to fully step into who we are and act from a place of foundational change, or will we disconnect out of fear? By using the gift of discernment and going deep within ourselves, I think we all know we cannot afford to play small nor disengage. When we are reinventing what it means to be a member of society, the voices of those seeking grace are needed to challenge those calling for violence and war. We are the descendants of revolutionaries who changed the face of history, and it is our time to show up with our gifts to help reshape this moment.
One thing I know to be true, we cannot choose to stand still–if we do, someone else will determine where we move. Our history exemplifies the tremendous cost when we collapse into civil war or leave each other behind. Nearly a century ago, America was coming through a pandemic and great depression, and we charted a new course to bring us forward. Though some did not like the sweeping reforms and his style, Franklin Roosevelt challenged his opposition that we couldn’t sit by while millions of Americans suffered. He said, “courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” It is a lesson we encounter yet again today.
This moment is our time, and discernment will help us know where we can be of service. We may upset a few areas of our life, but we are dying if we are not growing. Spend time every day contemplating what stirs your heart, and call upon grace to lead you. We each have a place in creating a revolution of love. We don’t have to do it alone. As long as we continue to show up and do our part from a place of the heart, the world will forever change for the better.
Photo credit Vince Moro, Paris–October 2019.