By Rev. Sheila Graves
There is a clear emphasis on working together right now, in part because it’s a big election year, and every candidate reminds followers that they must come together to prevail.
But it’s also because we know the value of working together to create and sustain anything; we know that it is only through community that humanity, or any form of life, survives; and it just feels good. At a deep level we know we’re meant to support others.
In community, the focus is generally on our responsibility to the whole: our service to the well-being of others in ways that ensure the future of life for all those with whom we share family and world. There’s absolutely no way we’ll survive and thrive without acting on behalf of the whole.
Yet while the evolution of consciousness focuses more on the WE than the I, there are ways we can strengthen emerging awareness by embodying and exercising the changes we seek at every level. If we truly wish to create a more evolved world, it’s something we forge in and through all relationship, with an unfailing awareness of the needs of those in our circle, because we are in this together.
Every one of us has undoubtedly experienced support from those around us. Perhaps we’ve been the one that received the gift—times when we’re stuck in our personal swamp and all we can see is our struggle, fear, insufficiency, and lack of energy. And we ignore, or deny, or can’t even find the Sacred part of Selves—the part that accepts the present long enough to let go of self-punishment and then moves forward once again.
Or maybe we’ve been the one that has extended it when someone we care about is in a difficult place—down on themselves, sad, losing hope in the future—and we step forward to gently and steadily remind them of how they’ve come through similar situations, perhaps becoming even stronger than they were; how disasters might have led them in better directions; how they can rise up into hope, thought by thought; and, of course, the Divine Force of Creation that’s with them, always. Or we simply sit quietly with them as they feel what’s there and, as the crisis subsides, gently lead them beyond.
In other words, we hold ourselves as Sacred Bearers of others’ Light when all they can see is darkness—holding their hope when they can’t seem to do so for themselves. Think of the familiar image of handing a flashlight to someone to hold so that we can use both hands to complete a household task, or when we’re camping, and ask a friend to hold the light so we can rummage around in the duffle bag to find our last pair of dry socks.
This isn’t so different. There are times when we need all our emotional, financial and social ‘equipment’ to deal with something, and then, even without being asked, a friend reminds us of our strengths. As Christopher Robin said to his great pal Pooh: Promise me you’ll always remember you’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.
It is a Sacred Offering to another: remembering what (s)he can’t at the moment.
This doesn’t mean we carry others, or direct their decisions, or pay for their crises, or live their lives for them. They are still responsible for their own inner and outer work. But we can look beyond the emotion of the moment. We can weave around them a web of light and confidence. We can look beyond the surface and see the innocent child. A lot has happened in our lives since any of us was a child, experiences that have changed every one of us, but the original Light is still there.
So the task, the opportunity, becomes to look less at what’s in the moment, at temporary issues of confusion, anger and fear, and focus more on the soul we know is within them, on what we know their Source and Spirit to be, on what poet Robert Browning called our imprisoned splendor.
Besides…despite the age-old saying that Love Conquers All, it doesn’t conquer—it transforms. And every moment we choose to look beyond the troubles, to the lovely, strong and possible of who we know others to be—we exert a force that attracts the others back to their own beauty.
It is a universal law that what we see is a result of what we think; what we focus on, expands; what we give energy to, increases. So intentionally holding for others the vision and energy of their truth reinforces the possibility that these will come back out and shine.
So holding another’s Light is a gift to them of grace and mercy. Yet we don’t come away empty-handed, because another Universal Law is that what we give determines what we receive.
That’s great news! Because we’re going to need the same grace sometime, and holding the light for others when they can’t sets the stage for an exchange when we need it. And since what we send forth comes back to us, while these outreaches might cost us time, money or energy, we will be the richer for it when the favor is returned.
None of us ever can ever completely grasp the value and nature of the gifts we bring, if only because they continue to bloom until the day we die, and beyond. But they’re always there, in the powerful space of Possibility.
And even if we forget who we are, what we can offer, or what our purpose is, there’s a deeper part of us that is always awake, ready, able…even eager…to step in and Source us. As Shakespeare said in The Merchant of Venice, Mercy is enthroned in the hearts of kings, but is an attribute of God himself.
By being willing to move beyond littleness not only in ourselves but in what we see in others, we encourage them to do the same for themselves, which ripples out and touches even more. Then, we join with others to share in the awakening and blossoming of what everyone has to offer.