It’s a beautiful sunny spring day. Life is budding.
I live in the hills of Berkeley, directly across the street from the hills of Tilden Park. Today, just days before the first day of Spring, the hills are richly green. The birds are singing. The trees are blossoming. One tree in particular grabs and holds my attention. It is a weeping cherry tree directly across from my living room window. She is budding, ripe with the fruit of life just bubbling under the skin of her delicate branches. Her branches are stark gray in contrast to the small, delicate blossoms just now opening to the warm spring sunshine.
I am amazed at the contrast between this small, soft pink flower petal and the sage, rooted, twisted and gnarled mother tree giving birth to it. When I look closely, the petals emerge right out of the tips of these weathered branches that have survived the winter cold, the driving rains and the months of dormancy. Life gives birth to life.
And so it is the same with us. In every moment, we are dying and being born, and in our times of transformation, we descend into the darkness, move through it, and if we stay with the intelligence of our own internal guidance, we emerge out into the light, budding with new life. The darkness is just as much a part of life as the light. We need to know one to know the other. Spring follows winter, summer turns to fall.
Life gives birth to life, and somewhere in the process something dies and transforms. It’s a circle that cannot be avoided, no matter how hard we might try. The past few years have been a patient teacher to me, providing me with the most gracious teachings on what it means to be fully alive to the circle of birth, death and transformation. And in these fecund teachings, I have become both painfully and joyously aware of what it means to be alive, not as a dry concept, but as rich experience. I have been humbled by the paradox I experience: the futility of trying to control anything at all, having the direct experience of life living exactly as life does, while at the same time knowing that I have the choice to follow that which compels me forward, a knowing at the deepest levels of my being that prods and pulls and pushes me into a place of complete undressing and exposure.
Mother Teresa said some wise things about action:
“It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”
“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”
It seems as if it is easy to get caught up in the ego’s desire to do big things to save the world. I know this well. And what I’ve experienced is that the desire to do big things causes me to spin into inaction, because I can’t even begin to know how to save the world. Does the world even need saving? I can make up all sorts of things about what I need to do if I am to make a difference. Yet somewhere within, a small voice stirs and is guiding me forth, if only I can listen.
I have come to see, through being aware of Life and how it unfolds, that all I can do is express my love for life in small actions, one step at a time. Life knows and I am an instrument of that knowing.
We are no different than the rest of nature for we, too, are nature. Just like the flowering cherry tree, what wants to emerge through me is pushing to unfold through me. What wants to emerge through you is causing something else in you to die, so that new life can be born.
In the dying paradigm, the old way of doing things that is on its way out, there was a central belief that a ‘big’ (powerful) person has to do something big to have an effect. This one person was the leader, the one others looked up to, the one others expected to take care of things.
In the new paradigm that is unfolding, things are different. We are beginning to see the strength of communities. Strong, supportive, truth-telling communities can bring collaboration and creativity and innovation. We’re beginning to see the possibilities that are there when many ordinary people do small things with great love and focus. Networks of people coming together, learning from each other, sparking ideas and doing small things with great love is the backbone of this new model.
If it sounds like small things have no power, think again. Imagine the force it takes for new blossoms to spring forth through gray, dry branches. It’s life force. It’s the same life force that is within you. The same life force that breathes you. The same life force that causes you to feel, to think, to love and to act.
In the end, trust yourself. Trust the urge in you that wants to propel you into action. The bigger intelligence can, and will, take care of the rest.
Do all of what you do with the great love that you are.