From the Small Work in the Great Work, by Victoria Safford
In conversations with friends and colleagues from around the globe this past month, I have been struck by the responses I have seen as each tries to find their footing in a world that feels so unmoored. Many feel, as if, in Rilke’s words, we are “standing on fishes”. And yet each is certain they have a role to play, even if unsure what that role is. For some it has been to find ways to provide food, clothing and shelter for loved ones or the vulnerable. For some, it has been highly visible, up front, and urgent calls to action. For some it has been a time to pause, retreat, reflect to tend to their own souls. There are untold ways we can respond to what is happening in our daily lives. But where to begin?
In sharing from her experiences after 9/11, Victoria Safford reminds us that every day, especially in periods of uncertainty, each of us has an opportunity to “show up” in big ways or small ways, to speak out, to create, to extend a hand to a neighbor—to honor the conviction of our spirit. She also reminds us that we each have a role to play. We each have a “plot of ground”—a community, a relationship, an issue, a principle that is dear to us.
The great work of our lives often begins with the courage we demonstrate in the small, daily encounters. We have a choice, as to how we respond. “The piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be”. We begin with “truth telling” about the condition of our own soul first, but are reminded that we not only need to tell others what we are seeing, but to ask what they are seeing.
Safford challenges us to answer the question “where do I begin”? How do I “show up” with courage, honoring the inner voice that is nudging me to engage with others, to reach out, to act, to speak, or to pause? How can we recognize and honor the plot of ground, literally or metaphorically, that needs our attention, our voice, our love?
What might be your plot of ground in these days? Where are opportunities for you to give voice or action to the “internal clarity of your spirit”? How can you tell people what you are seeing while ensuring you are asking what they are seeing? At which gate will you plant yourself as you seek to regain your footing in a world turned so upside down?
Stace Lindsay, Bozeman, Montana