Like Leo’s mom said the other day, I want to put my hands and feet where my heart is. My heart breaks at the continuous rape of Mother Earth. I seethe at the mistreatment of all of Her creatures. I fear for the health and wellbeing of all animals and plants as we continue to pollute our water and air and soil. I’m going to Standing Rock to take a stand for our Mother and her children.
I am going because I feel an urge to bring myself closer to that which frightens me. I am going in order to face questions in myself that I’m sometimes to afraid to even ask, let alone answer. Am I strong enough, brave enough? What am I really willing to risk for the beautiful world I know to be possible and true? Can I really call myself an activist? What impact am I really making on this planet? Though my activism takes different forms, I’ve never been tear gassed or arrested. I go to protests when it works with my schedule, (except for the one time in high school I skipped class and organized fellow students to protest the invasion of Iraq). What conveniences and comforts will I give up for the sake of generations to come?
People keep telling me “thank you” and “you’re so brave” and “I’m proud of you.” Yet, I feel so undeserving. How long has it taken me to truly disrupt my life for the sake of a cause? Too long, I fear.
I’m going not really having any clue what I have to offer to the Water Protectors, whose bravery and determination brings me to my knees. And, I’m scared! I’m scared of being cold, of not making friends, of pooping in a port-a-potty, of not looking cute in my bulky clothes, of being hungry, of not knowing what to do in case of an emergency, of being TOO scared to attend an action. And, of course, I’m scared of the big things, too – bodily harm, the militarized police, drones and planes lurking overhead, getting arrested. I’m moving toward a war zone, with my brain’s trusty fear centers going, “What the hell are you doing!?”
But what I’m most scared of is not listening to the beat of my own heart, pulsating with love and hope. My heart that reminds me of my best, most courageous, and compassionate self. It whispers, you will know what to do when the time comes. If you just listen.
So, this is the thing. Listen. Show up and listen. I don’t know what’s going to happen or what will be needed of me or if I’ll have anything of value to contribute. My friend Adam reminded me of a quote from Henri Nouwen who says that we are called to be irrelevant. I’m not an expert on his writings, but I take this to mean that the more I can empty myself of my self – the self that wants to know that I am needed, the self that needs to know I’ll see some results – the more I can allow That Which is Greater than me to speak through me, to move through me.
What I do have to offer, with all of my questions and doubts is this: to those of you who may feel like maybe you’re not so brave, who don’t think of yourselves as activists, what are you called to do if you simply listen to the beat of your own hearts?
We are moving into a time when we are all called to be just a little bit (or a lot a bit) bolder, to stretch ourselves and take some risks – which means opening up the tender and vulnerable spaces within ourselves so that grace can flow through.