for Joanna Macy
This morning, idly reminiscing about my youth, I recalled the time I mistakenly took a bus north from Paris to the town of Chars, rather than the bus south from Paris to the town of Chartres, not realizing my mistake until we got to the last stop, Chars.
“Ou est la cathedrale?” I asked the driver in my best French. He looked puzzled and assured me there was a nice little church there, but no cathedral. I insisted that there was a cathedral! We finally untangled my mistake in the café at the end of the line, to the great laughter and kindness of the good folk of Chars who put me up for the night, fed me and laughed uproariously at my mistake. It wouldn’t surprise me if I am still part of the town’s folklore.
Two days later, and many hours of travelling in the other direction, I found myself at last in Chartres where, in the Cathedral, I met one of the great loves of my life. My crisis had, in fact, been perfectly timed.
These unexpected synchronicities happen to me frequently, and I live by them. I never know what will come from what. Bad news turns into good news, mistakes turn into opportunities, the hardest times become the biggest teachers.
Our house is a good example. Years ago, during the stormy winter of 1965 when my three cooped-up little kids were bouncing off the walls of our bungalow, I had the bright idea of an outing to a real estate office as a distraction. Why not get driven around to look at houses for sale for an afternoon? This, of course, despite the fact we were in no position to move, as my dear husband reminded me later.
But the kids had great fun charging up and down other people’s staircases, and at one house, my own favorite, they made themselves right at home. As it happened, low interest rates were about to rise, the house was surprisingly affordable and perfect for our little family, and by that evening – in a state of shock, I must admit – Herb and I had signed the papers. It is still ‘home’.
I think our current political situation can be one of those hard times we can twist in our favor, if we choose to, though it will not be easy and will take much courage and imagination on our parts. I am not sure we have a choice. This is make-or-break time and speaking for myself, I will not let this administration break me! I choose to consider this a testing time, and my job is to not get broken but to stay alert, strong and loving without resorting to reciprocal hatred.
If I give in and become as filled with hate as they are, they win.
Yes, what is happening is terrifying and horrific, cruel and unbelievable, but we are gathering collective steam, and more and more of us know we have to do this together. We’ve been kicked in the pants – hard – but I’m seeing us, the young ones especially, teaming up and brilliantly dreaming up the new world, and it is time! My wish is to help them accomplish it, and to live in that world with them.
I imagine that is your wish too.
They seem to understand that the work is not about trying to find our way back to a barely working system that has been unjust and imperfect for far too long already. They are choosing to re-imagine an interrelated world on a balanced Earth in which love and respect, rather than conflict and profit form the template.
They are smart, these young ones, and energetic, and it’s more than time that we listen to what they are saying – they and the indigenous elders they are learning from.
The other day I brought a young woman to see the Wild and Radish Farm, where I will probably be living in the next year or so, and as we arrived we found that Maisie, one of the goats, was in labor.
Oh my! Shuddering moans and heaving of flanks with a pointy nose and tiny hooves protruding from the opening, more and more until a whole baby goat plopped out onto the ground, and took in its first breath of the world.
We didn’t know what to do first – get towels? Crack the sac?
But while we deliberated there came another baby, nose first, surprising even Maisie as she stepped on her firstborn in confusion, not knowing which baby to lick first. It was hilarious! So she went back and forth between them, trying to lick them both dry while the twins staggered to their feet and boldly took off in opposite directions.
It was clear what we had to do, my friend and I, and we did it, corralling the kids, keeping Maisie’s hooves off them, squeezing her teats to get milk flowing, helping both babies find those teats, wiping everyone off, staying out the way of hanging strings of bloody afterbirth, and crooning our congratulations as Maisie burbled burp-like sounds to her kidlets and they reported back with beh-beh-behs, sucking ecstatically as they were welcomed into our world.
Instinctively, we all knew what to do.
The rest of us humans know what to do, too. We may think we don’t because it’s all become so complicated, but we do. We just have to keep our wits about us, trust in our intuitions, know we are encoded with knowledge we may not even be aware we have, and realize we are all in this together with love as our base root reality.
And to hold our ground against destructive forces that would take over our humanity with force! No, no! We resist with tough love in the face of the Darkness, no matter what.
Wail, and then sing!
After all, taking the wrong bus happens, no big deal, and it can be an opportunity to see some new places, have a good laugh at yourself and meet some good people you would never have otherwise met. You may even find one of the loves of your life there, or have a chance to give comfort where you least expected to. Or find the house of your dreams or even help the world as it labors to birth the new era.
The important thing is to stay alert and calm, to keep your own vibrations high, and do what needs doing with a strong heart, no matter what.
The wild ride is on, folks, and we’re in it. Hang onto your hats, open your hearts wide, hold hands with the rest of us and keep your sense of humor handy!
We’ll need it.