“Travel Light, Live Light, Spread Light, Be The Light.” – Yogi Bhajan
Sometimes spirituality is easy.
The Law of Attraction works. We pray for a change in perspective, and we swiftly meet a stranger who teaches us a profound lesson. We make vision boards, and we ultimately manifest the apartment, the boyfriend, the job, the adventure we wanted. We make empowered declarations to the Universe, and they come bounding back to us with sparkles and miracles and paychecks and hope.
Sometimes spirituality is hard.
We cradle our foreheads in bathroom stalls, knocking fists against the hinges because our lives are so far off from our dreams. We toss and turn in our bright-yellow-sheets, sweaty with fear that our deceased friends are gone forever. We lose friends to unloving mishaps, we try to repress the aftershocks of our long-charred familial bridges.
And sometimes spirituality is an unbearable feat.
Our friends drop one by one to a suicide epidemic that society pretends not to see. A young man lies dead in the street for four hours, a victim of his country’s legacy of racism. Incomprehensible wars rage on. Senseless accidents and screeching moments rip our loved ones away from us before we can even blink. We have enough food on this planet to feed everyone, yet swaths of people starve.
Every generation asks themselves how they are supposed to cope with the tragic conditions of the world around us. We all take stabs at the answers. No one has convinced me of a universal answer, but somewhere in the journey, in the prodding and guessing and heartbreak, a story can emerge.
Lesson 71 of A Course in Miracles contains a prayer that I say every morning in front of my hot pink altar:
“Where would You have me go?
What would You have me do?
What would You have me say, and to whom?”
In a prayer like this, we talk to The Universe – intimately, one-on-one, declaring that we are a tiny expression of the broader energy of Life. We become willing to put aside our own personality and control issues, if only for a few seconds, to allow answers to come forth.
I usually add my own lines to this prayer too:
What would You have me write?
How would You have me handle [a painful situation]?
Who would You have me be?
I don’t think we can be the people anymore who see “died suddenly” in a friend’s obituary and nod knowingly, no longer needing to be told that they took their own life. I don’t think cynicism is our answer.
I don’t think we can afford to be apathetic anymore. I don’t think we can afford to be uneducated anymore, to resort to nasty internet arguments when the world around us demands that we stand up and fix these messes we have created.
I don’t think we have time to be overwhelmed and paralyzed anymore. Our little individual corners of the world, no matter how we got there, are ours to address. The social issues that compel us to act are the ones we should be acting on. Our desire to take action is divinely etched on our heart. How dare we not act on those impulses. How dare we stay small and hidden.
What would the Universe have you do?
Are you up to the task?
Can you somehow stand up and be the light and the peace of the world today?
Amidst all of the sadnesses of yesterday and the sadnesses that will surely come tomorrow?
Amidst the fractured social systems? Amidst the degradation? Amidst the beauty and the ruins?
Amidst the senseless minutia of your daily life?
Can you wipe away your tears and shakily, bravely, keep radiating your light?
Who would the Universe have you be?
Like the whole world is watching,