My brilliant friend, Elizabeth, has a great post about changing the world. While that may seem like an overwhelming topic, Elizabeth quickly puts it into terms that make sense.
I’ve long believed that when the same thing keeps popping up for you over and over, you should probably start paying attention, since clearly the universe is tapping you on the shoulder.
What’s been tapping me on the shoulder lately?
Diversity and inclusion.
After citing some of the recent taps on her shoulder, she says:
So that’s what I’m going to do: do what’s in my power to shine a spotlight on diversity and inclusion and where we fail and how we can pick ourselves back up and try again.
And I know that she will — on her blog, at her job, via the conference presentations that she does, throughout all of the various forms of social media that she uses to speak truth to power.
Elizabeth and I have been chatting lately about the dynamic between what I’ll call “inner” (spiritual practices, exploring your own shadow issues, developing all aspects of your Self, etc.) and “outer” (pro bono law work, volunteering to clean up the Anacostia River, working to elect good people to office, etc.) work. Sometimes, I think that we Pagans, in particular, can get too wrapped up in inner work. And, of course, it’s true that when you change yourself, you change the world. A Witch who becomes aware of her own shadow issues and works to liberate the energy bound up in shadows for productive use, moving away from the need to project, is going to change her world. But there’s no end to spiritual work — at least not if we take it seriously. And the notion that you can ignore outer work until you’ve reached some point of spiritual perfection isn’t practical. As Adrienne Rich said:
No one ever told us we had to study our lives,
make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history
or music, that we should begin
with the simple exercises first
and slowly go on trying
the hard ones, practicing till strength
and accuracy became one with the daring
to leap into transcendence, take the chance
of breaking down the wild arpeggio
or faulting the full sentence of the fugue.
–And in fact we can’t live like that: we take on
everything at once before we’ve even begun
to read or mark time, we’re forced to begin
in the midst of the hard movement,
the one already sounding as we are born.
IMHO, it’s the interplay — between doing serious inner work, going out into the world to try and change it, coming back and examining all of that at our altars, going back out into the world and trying again, coming back and applying what we’ve learned to our work on our selves, and on and on — that both helps us to continue to grow spiritually and helps to make the world a better place. And to Pagans, wise to the ways in which non-duality matters, that shouldn’t be a surprise. What we learn in the work of changing the world gives energy and impetus to our inner work and our inner work makes us more effective at changing the world. As Mr. Belafonte sings, “We are of the Spirit, only can the Spirit turn the world around.” And (as above, so below) outer work can grow the Spirit.
What’s tapped me on my shoulder for many years is the need that the land has for people who are in relationship with it. And the need that people have to be in relationship with their watershed, landbase, foodshed. And I’m going to keep working on that, in ways both magical and “mundane,” in my own garden, where I pursue my own deeper and deeper relationship with my own Bit of Earth, and in the world at large.
What’s leaving fingermarks on your shoulder?