Fierce Grace

I am compelled to tell a story. And so, I have begun with this very first entry; it’s my story, it’s our story. I shall tell it in episodes so as to provide context. There are many hoops/circles, within circles, and eventually we will get to my particular circle. I am hopeful that you will remain tuned in.

Over millennia many souls have come and gone as human beings. Some lived humbly and transitioned without any name recognition, fame or fortune. Others are exalted as visionary teachers by humanity-at- large hundreds of years after their passing. What these great teachers have in common is what they pointed to, namely, the interconnection of all human beings, all of life.

Desmond Tutu :- This winner of the Noble Peace Prize, grew up in apartheid-divided South Africa in a shack without plumbing or electricity. He reminded us that “we shall be free, all of us, black and white, for it is God’s intention”– The Rainbow People of God, p.127

Mahatama Gandhi :- Instrumental in three major twentieth-century struggles; those against racism, violence, and colonialism, the man was steeped in wisdom traditions of Hinduism and Jainism. He reminded us that “if each of our non-violence is to be contagious and infectious, we must acquire greater control over our thoughts” – The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, p.277

Dali Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) :- Forced into exile by the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama has traveled extensively, acting as an advocate for conflict resolution by peaceful means.  He reminded us that “the more altruism we develop in a day, the more peaceful we find ourselves. Similarly, the more self-centered we remain, the more frustrations and trouble we encounter”– Path to Bliss, p.18

Evelyn Underhill :- This poet and novelist recognized that contemplative prayer is not just for monks and nuns but for anyone willing to undertake it. She reminded us that “visions and voices stand in the same relation to the mystic as pictures, poems, and musical compositions stand to the great painter, poet, and musician” – Mysticism, p. xvi

Joseph Campbell :- This New Yorker delved into the wisdom of Native Americans as a youth and went on to become the leading mythologist of his time.  He reminded us that “each group of human beings has been operating based on tribal mythologies;now we need one universal mythology for all humankind” – The Power of Myth, p.13

Mother Teresa :- Known as the Saint of the Gutters, she started an order dedicated to serving the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. She reminded us that “it is not enough for us to say that we love God whom we do not see, when we do not love our neighbors whom we see” – Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1979

Black Elk :- (also known as Hehaka Sapa) was an instrumental shaman who helped the world understand the Native American perspective on religion, culture, and way of life. He reminded us that “the sacred hoop of his people was only one of many hoops that made the One Big Circle, and that in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one Mother and one Father” – Black Elk Speaks, p.33

~ excerpts taken from 75 People who changed the world – Jaico Publishing House – 2019

What these great women and men have in common is that each one pointed to the Truth; we belong to One Human Family. While some showed the way by shaking things up, others bore witness with their lives. Some made the strongest impressions simply with their presence, and others tried to bring the various traditions together.

Sometimes, trauma, sickness, and encounters with the underworld serve as catalysts to open a window through which higher levels of consciousness are reached. We have an incredible opportunity to gain deeper insight through our own life journeys; our specific stories, if we dare to look at trauma in our lives as a ‘calling’, and share it with our fellow human beings. After all, more frequently than not, it is the wounded healers of this world who are afforded the capacity to point to the transcendent.