I lived in Japan during college, and have only been back for business travel since then. Until this season! I can’t wait to return and to experience the disorientation that comes from visiting a place that is at once familiar and also a distant memory.
Different sounds, different tastes, different sights… and underneath all of that, different history, different influences, different ideas.
And underneath that, discovery. Joy. Unity.
Dear ones, may we dive so deep in the unfamiliar that it becomes home.
May we revel in peeling the potatoes.
Sometimes the questions have no answers.
Sometimes helpless and hopeless intertwine.
Sometimes griefs compound.
sometimes the sun and the moon and the earth align
and the planet cools in shadow
and even the birds pause in their cries
and there is a moment of sacred peace.
Petroglyphs at Mesa Verde, about 800 years old.
About once a year, I review the foundational Leverage Points essay by Donella Meadows. Like a great painting or novel, new insights emerge every time.
This year, the essay led me down a path to Meadows’ talk at a 1994 academic conference, where the stated topic was Envisioning a Sustainable World. Courageously setting her academic presentation aside, Dana noted that as we are trained in our various fields of analysis and decision-making and specialized knowledge, we are “systematically un-trained” in visioning, much to our detriment.
We can share our cynicism with total strangers, but we can’t share our dreams, our hopes, our deepest longings. Why?
Once you are clear in your vision, you will see it in pieces and patches everywhere, coming into being.
Don’t grasp too hard.
Dear friends, vision needs practice, like anything else.
Let’s speak our dreams, even if a whisper.
Let’s look for the pieces and patches,
coming into being.
In my dream the other night I was waiting to board a plane, in the muddled frazzled frame of mind that comes from too much motion and not enough stillness. As I tried to concentrate on a stream of inbound emails, I felt someone coming up behind me – a little too close, as often happens in a crowded terminal. Then another. Then another.
Then I felt a hand on my shoulder. I shrugged it off, irritated and refusing to acknowledge the interruption. The hand returned, gently. I shrugged again. Finally, a third time.
I whirled around to confront the intruder, and there gathered behind me were all the people I’ve ever loved, past and present, patiently loving me back. As I scanned each precious face I just kept thinking, oh! You’re all here!
I did not have to want them there. I did not have to ask. They were already present.
Dear ones, help is all around.
May we offer.
May we receive.
While thousands gathered for climate week in New York these past few days, I took a turn to a much smaller venue.
I listened to scientists, brainy and brimming with equations, highlight the importance of human connection.
I heard about a police officer stopping to photograph a rose.
I met a new place through the loving introductions of its people.
I sat by the sea and marveled at the spiral of a shell.
I told my own story of discovering Chagall’s Peace Window at the United Nations, shifting exhaustion to hope.
I felt the power of being surrounded by plants and art and music, where once these were scarce.
Dear friends, we know that beauty is essential,
and we are surrounded.
Whether seashell or sincerity or symphony,
let us see it.
Let us be it.
Artwork above by Charles Clary, who notes, “We either rise to the occasion or sink into despair.” Below is Chagall’s Peace Window, of which he said, “Stained glass has to be serious and passionate… For me a stained-glass window is a transparent partition between my heart and the heart of the world.”