What does it take to be a sacred activist?

I sit here, in a Park Slope penthouse, “babysitting” an 11-year-old. I sit here, lost more in my thoughts about this weekend’s Sacred Activism workshop than in the assignment for seminary whose due date is looming ahead of me. The assignment? To write an interfaith wedding ceremony, replete with rituals and words about love and commitment. But, I have another sort of commitment on my mind and that is my commitment to the path of sacred activism.

At the end of a deeply rousing three days of listening to the great Andrew Harvey, he instructed us to write our vows to this way of life. This is what came out of me, “I commit to surrender and accept the world as it is, in all of its frighteningly splendid glory, to continue allowing my heart to break open and flow forth with love toward myself, the planet and all of her inhabitants and, most of all, the Beloved. I will use my voice in a daily practice of devotion as well as in connection to others; this includes both song and silence. And, I will begin again every morning.”

Surrender. It’s not an accident that, this month, I studied Muhammed, the Great Prophet, the father of Islam (the Arabic word for “surrender”). I must surrender my impatience to the natural unfolding of the events ahead of me and the world. I surrender my ego to the fact that I am simply a vessel for the Universal Consciousness, that all of my ideas and stories about Chelsea and her skills and role in the world are merely ideas. I must surrender in acknowledgement to the fact that this planet is in a horrifyingly precarious state right now. I bow to the fact that there are, in fact, millions of people working hard to overcome the trauma and destruction. I surrender to the overwhelming presences of Love and Beauty that do indeed exist in this world. Most of all, I surrender to the Great Paradox: Everything that can be lost will be lost. Everything is impermanent, yet there is some sort of knowing deep within my soul that must continue to be expressed in sacred service to the world. My actions are not for naught. This may not be the most logical thing, but Truth is most often found beyond logic.

Heartbreak. The more my heart breaks at articles I read about ecological and social destruction and strife, the more my heart has broken open for love. The fact that I feel sadness and terror is a direct display of my love for a hurting world. This fear and anger motivates me to serve out of love. There is power in my love that has yet to be unleashed.

The Beloved. I have to admit I am not quite sure what this means. I have come to terms with believing in a divine presence that I alternately call God, Allah, Love, Life Force, the Great Mystery, and more. No, I do not believe for one second that God is an old man floating in the sky. God is certainly without gender. God is beyond all that I will ever understand. Usually, I sense this presence as a presence of expansive, infinite energy. That doesn’t mean much, I know. I just can’t put God into a tiny little container with rules and restrictions.

Song and silence. The use of my voice in speaking, writing, and singing is part of my dharma. This knowing is something that comes from beyond any desire of my own. Words continue to flow, almost too fast for me to let out clearly. Sometimes, I get caught up with writer’s block or a tied tongue, but eventually I get hit with a barrage of thoughts that clamor for attention. I keep learning that the more I talk, the more I need to listen. In a song, silence leaves space for the music to integrate and continue its journey on the inside of your soul. In life, I need the same sort of silence to listen to those in-betweens in my own life.

Begin again. There will never be a day when I have all of the answers or when everything comes together and life just flows like magic. The moment I think that I’ve got it, I experience death. Living a life of service and devotion to that which is greater than myself is a minute-by-minute, day-by-day commitment. I commit to this life of humility and hard work. When I forget, I’ll take a deep breath and remind myself to come back to where I started.

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