One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
I always believed that in order to save the forests of the world I had to do something major, like chain myself to a tree. Julia Butterfly Hill lived in a giant redwood in California for 738 days to keep it from being cut down. She is a brave, inspiring soul and I’ve always aspired to do something as equally brave and inspiring. But that is not who I am. For one thing, I’m 68 years old and climbing the tree in the first place would be a major problem. My thermostat isn’t working like it used to and I’m always either too cold or too hot. I would need to bring a truckload of sweaters and sports bras up the tree with me. I get sore sitting in the same position for 30 minutes, never mind 738 days. I’d need to bring my Pilates teacher, Jessie, with me, to help me stretch and keep my body in some kind of shape. And what about a bathroom? Chaining myself to a tree isn’t any better actually, though I wouldn’t be afraid of falling out of my nest while I was taking a nap.
But I do want to save the world. I always have. And it’s not just the forests I want to save, it’s the whales, bats, homeless people, and those who are being murdered in Libya for the sake of an insane dictator. I want to provide homes for every kitten or puppy that is allowed to be born because pet owners won’t have their dogs and cats spayed or neutered. I could go on and on. I have a very difficult time seeing the world in the state that it is in right now. All of that speaks of empathy but it also says a lot about the control issues that I’ve finally begun to let go of in the past several years. The truth is, I can’t control anything, except my temper, which from time to time has a way of running away from me and doing her own thing.
So what does an ordinary, aging, empathic like me have to do to feel that she’s doing something worthwhile to serve? I’ve been working on the answer to this question for a long time and I’m beginning to believe the wise ones who have said, stay calm, bring love and happiness into the world. No matter what your own troubles may be, smile and say hello to those you pass on the street. One of them just might need that smile to keep from doing something tragic. When you smile your soul lights up. When you help someone cross the road your soul lights up. When you donate a bag of dog food to the SPCA your soul lights up.
When you give a gift of kindness your soul lights up and you will be doing something to save our world. That is our work.