FACED WITH A CHOICE
Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Jesus, “I have come that you may life and have it abundantly.”
We live in a culture that is faced with a significant choice – will we continue down the pathway of growth sustained by consumerism or will we be part of developing and supporting a movement that is growing all over the globe which is rooted in spiritual principals of deep connection with one another, ourselves, creation and the energy of divine love that is God.
In the tale of The Legend of the Golden Dolphin the story is told that the time will come when there will be a battle between the images that will inform our lives: will it be the images of violence and control, or will it be images of peace, wellbeing and shared power? The main stream media images that bombard us in the living rooms of our lives are currently filled with violence and the need to consume to create the kind of world we want. But there are also images and stories
all around us of connection and wholeness that speak to the deep longing that is nourishing this time of spiritual awakening. Images of creativity, beauty, and good will are a reflection of the alternative vision of the kingdom of God that Jesus taught – when the power that reigns is love, a teaching he was prepared to die for rather than be silenced by the power of the empire, as Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan identify in their book The Last Week. Images of compassion and renewed life are also a reflection of the Isaiah vision that is woven through the writings of the prophets in the Old Testament.
One of the grass root movements that caught my imagination that is working to help create this alternative vision of wellbeing for all is called The Eagle and Condor Symposium: Awakening the Dreamer Changing the Dream that is now being shared around the globe. The symposium is a process to help people awaken to the choices before us. It is based on the prophecy of the Mayan people that for 500 years the eagle would be the most powerful force which would enable the development of the intellect to expand our technical capacities. At the end of those 500 years, which is now, the eagle and the condor will fly together in one sky with the condor balancing the power of the brain with the power of the heart. The goal of the symposium is to create a human presence on the earth that weaves together the three key strands of environmental sustainability, life that is spiritually fulfilling, and a world that is socially just. For these three strands to be woven together we need opportunities for people to move out of lives of isolation that have been created by our modern world of mobility and competition, and move into significant communities where we can reweave the connectional fabric that provides support for the journey toward healing, purpose and wholeness.
In this time of great transition and possibility, we need circles that provide opportunity to create the transformation we want to see in the world. There is a longing in people to connect at significant levels which happens when we have safe places to gather that provide us with the possibility of discovering who we authentically are as well as deepen in our relationship with God. We need healthy life-giving community so that together we can discover our wisdom, share our gifts, and learn and experience the values which will nourish us and our earth home.
Life in the modern era has been broken into small segments that have detached us from the larger picture. We have lost the wisdom that arises from experiences such as engaging with the full spectrum of growing food, preparing food and feasting together with a sense of celebration of the blessing of the food. When I was in Kauai this year the Kahuna shared with us that the canoe is their people’s classroom of life. Canoe in their language means unity consciousness; people learn to work together to create the canoe and then it takes the efforts of everyone to propel it through the water. The stories they tell of their ancient canoes are that they held 10,000 people who all worked on building the canoe and then shared in the paddling of it. The traditional people of Kauai, who are reclaiming their ancient ways that connect them to each other, the earth and God, will be cutting down the large very old tree at the sacred site where the Kahuna shared these teachings to again have their classroom as they build a canoe with the younger generation. That sense of connection will allow values to be passed on, gifts to be developed, and community to be established.
There is much evidence of the positive impact of community circles that intentionally focus on healthy relationships and create space so that we can be open to our combined wisdom for living authentic lives that honour life. Some examples include:
o The Transition Town movement has been incredible in developing networks and bringing people together to envision how we can create communities that are sustainable by using our energy and creativity in preparation for less dependence on petroleum for energy.
o Retreats and Small Group ministries are powerful examples within the church of intentional opportunity for significant community to emerge. I have experienced the incredible positive life-changing impact on people’s lives of small groups, retreats and the redevelopment of spiritual practices.
Since the late 1990’s I have been leading workshops on how to create life-giving community through Small Groups within the United Church of Canada. After years of developing and supporting and teaching about Small Groups I am quite convinced that teaching a methodology or form for Small Groups is not enough. There needs to be a real commitment to spiritual growth on the part of leaders and a willingness to journey deep if a small group is going to be transformative in the lives of the participants; to help them be part of creating a world of sharing, compassionate communication, integrity, justice, and wholeness that reflect what Jesus taught about the power of love when it reigns in our lives. Within the best practices for Small Groups there need to be opportunities for spiritual nourishment and growth that could be met by things such as alternative worship, retreats, and intentional spiritual disciplines.