The words of the Desiderata, purportedly written several hundred years ago and found in a church in Baltimore, remind us:
Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you consider God to be. . . . . with all is sham and drudgery and broken dreams it is still a beautiful world.
As we look around us, it is only with an innate optimism and unswerving faith that we can hold this vision. As the slumbering giant of the Eastern hemisphere awakens to the promise of all that consumerism can bring, the West looks at the emptiness that consumerism leaves in the soul and seeks answers to life’s questions in the wisdom of the East. As Nature is despoiled to the point of suffocation we are all finally forced to look at our place in the Universe and ask those embarrassing questions about what we individually are doing to help and what we are doing to hinder the realigning balance that is so out of kilter. We think we know so much! Science has provided incredible insights about the working of the natural world and gifted us with a corporate machine that clogs our world with plastics and aluminum, and our infests our bodies with parabens and other chemicals that we can’t pronounce that poison our bodies and we wonder at the number of cancer–related illnesses, numbers of children with being diagnosed with autism – all in the greediest, most consumerist nation on the planet. As American’s, as women, how do we find any sense of balance and soulful ways to live our lives? Just as the crew in any airplane instructs: In the event of any emergency, “please place one over your own face before trying to assist another.” Audre Lorde reminds us too that caring for ourselves is not self-indulgence, it is self –preservation. Hillel stated us :If I am not for myself, who will be for me
John O’Donohue, mystic poet, has some fascinating ideas about living soulfully. “The more I’ve been thinking about this, the more it seems to me actually is that the visible world is the first shoreline of the invisible world. And the same way I believe with the body and the soul. That actually . . . the body is in the soul, not the soul just in the body. And that in some way the poignancy of being a human being is that you are the place where the invisible becomes visible and expressive in some way.”
Our scientific bias has blinded us to what indigenous people all over the world knew and know that nature – rocks, plants, animals, the stars, planets and universe is alive with a consciousness, different but equal in all ways to our own. When we go out each morning, silently and listening, in O’ Donohue’s words with “an open heart and a watchful reverence” we are amazed at what we can learn. Being aware of the vitality of nature and her cycles connects us into the rhythm of the universe. If we consciously attend to this energy we start to open to life in anew way in which the following can enhance the soulful quality of our days. Reading O’Donohue is taking the oxygen mask he offers.