Sacred Actions and Building Hope
“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” - Barbara Kingsolver
It’s been 3 months since our son Coley was born and it’s a time that can only be described in contradictions: terrifying and tender, beautiful and (almost) unbearable, filled with moments of elation and exhaustion, anxiety and joy, loneliness and longing juxtaposed with a burgeoning sense of self-love and contentment. Having my daughter Hawthorne almost 6 years ago, the overwhelm was so intense it felt like pure survival most of the time, like one day I read a book on medicine and then someone handed me a scalpel and said, “now you’re a surgeon!” I struggled through layers of self-doubt and, over time, was forced to confront each of my individual weaknesses one by one. With Coley, that work has only continued and intensified as I’ve doubled down on my commitment to “just be ok” no matter what current flavor of apocalypse we might be dealing with on any given day.
Which is good, because this summer has been serving up some serious doomsday vibes. Coronavirus, wildfires, droughts, floods, and unrest at home and abroad - aren‘t we all having to dig deeper into the source of whatever keeps us going just to avoid being crushed under the weight of it all? It’s an intense time to have a child, to follow a nature-based faith, to be any kind of earthling at all.
I have found my purpose in practicing what author and fellow Druid Dana O’Driscoll calls “Sacred Actions” - meaningful choices we can make every day, as individuals, to show our commitment to healing this living earth. With each simple, caring act - choosing to buy only second-hand clothes, cloth diapering, eating a plant-based diet, hanging out my laundry, etc. - I dwell within my own vision of hope for this world. Doing these things allows me to feel some sense of agency in a time when we are often being told the big problems can only be solved by government legislation, billionaires, and corporations.
Being a witch means believing that the microcosm reflects the macrocosm, and that true change comes first from within individual minds and hearts. Gandhi said it perfectly: “As a [person] changes [their] own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards [them]. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” For too long I believed that to “be the change you want to see in the world,” I needed to become an activist or make change happen on a large scale. I’m sure this is where a lot of other people get stuck, too. It was a belief that I found particularly suffocating after the 2016 election, when I, as the mother of a child under 1 year old, suddenly began trying to become a community organizer. Needless to say, I burnt out almost before I began. The truth is, change can come from the top down, but it also comes from the bottom up, through the accumulated action and energy of minds and hearts waking up and taking part in sustainable, small-scale changes. It may not get you a spot in any history book, but it’s enough to hear the call and do whatever you can to build momentum towards societal change.
Being a parent in 2021 means cultivating this kind of hope. Not the hope that nothing bad will ever happen to us, but faith that we can continue to find opportunities for growth and compassion, that we can simply be ok, even in the face of great loss and turmoil.
I encourage you to buy this wonderful book and join me in taking sacred action every day. Click the picture below to snag your copy.