David's Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however, the material is ©2018 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters, please let us know at info@Lorian.org.
January, 2018 - THE B’S
First, I wish you a most happy and joy-filled New Year. This year we will travel 4.5 billion miles through space as the solar system orbits around the center of our galaxy. I hope every one of those miles brings blessings to you!
When I was a child growing up on an American air base in Morocco, my paternal grandmother came from the States to live with us for several months. I remember her saying, when someone was excited about an idea, that he had a “bee in his bonnet.” I always thought that was a funny expression. When I first heard it I had no idea what a “bonnet” was, and later, when I learned it was a type of hat, the image of bees buzzing around in it made me laugh. I had to grow older to fully appreciate the aptness of the saying.
When thinking about 2018, I have some “B’s” in my bonnet. They are my reminders to myself on how to engage with the months ahead.
The first is Be Prepared. One thing about the future these days is how unpredictable it is. The world is changing in many ways right before our eyes. This can certainly be disconcerting, but it doesn’t have to be disempowering if I have prepared for change as best I can. For instance, friends of ours almost lost their house in the recent wildfires near Santa Barbara, California. The flames came within yards of their home before firefighters, aided by a sudden shift in the wind, fought them back. Yet my friends were not caught by surprise. Knowing fire could be a possibility, they had made preparations to ensure their safety and the preservation of the possessions they most cared about. Similarly, we live on a major earthquake fault. Recently, my wife and youngest son went through a six-week disaster preparedness class so that we know what to do and how to help should anything happen in our area.
Preparation, though, isn’t restricted to physical or financial readiness to deal with sudden change. There is psychological preparedness, too, much of which comes down to being able to trust oneself and those around one. What is the solid core of identity out of which you can function with skill and confidence? What are the solid relationships of connection, love, and friendship that can provide mutual assistance in any time of change or trouble? What inner preparation can you do in addition to any outer actions?
My second B is to Be Resilient. You can’t prepare for everything. Journeying into the future is always a journey into the unknown. Life has a way of introducing the unexpected into our lives, both good and bad. Being able to bounce back from the unexpected is an important skill; it allows us to dance with life even in the moment it seems to tread on our toes.
When I think of resilience, I think of a toy I had when I was a kid. It was an inflatable boxer that was weighted on the bottom. I could hit it and knock it down, but it would bounce back up. We can be like this, too, if we have the metaphysical weight of our values and principles to ground us. Knowing our own inner center of spiritual and psychological “gravity” gives us resiliency, providing the strength we need to rise above circumstances that otherwise would knock us down emotionally, mentally, or even physically.
A third B is Be Adaptable. This is similar to resilience but I don’t have to be knocked over to be adaptable. Indeed, my ability to change, to improvise, and to adapt to what is happening in the world allows me to partner with the world around me. This does not mean that I surrender my core principles and values just to “fit in.” That is not adaptability; that is conformity. Organisms adapt to changes in their environment or they perish, but the adaptation preserves their essential identity. A crow doesn’t adapt by becoming a sparrow; it adapts by learning new crow behavior.
Adaptability is all about learning, taking in new knowledge, being aware of what is happening in the world and how to connect with it. It’s about being attentive and willing to try new steps in the dance of life. It is a willingness to go beyond “business as usual” to learn new ways of being, something that I feel will become increasingly important for all of us in the days ahead. Old ways of treating nature, treating others, treating ourselves simply are not working the way they once did and are becoming sources of danger rather than of creativity or progress. A world of climate change, for instance, is not the world our parents and grandparents knew. A world of the Internet and cyberspace isn’t, either. What changes do we need to make to honor our individuality, our humanity, and the sanctity and wholeness of our world? How do we now need to adapt to ensure a positive future?
My fourth B is Be Optimistic. Why not? Pessimism, doubt, fear, despair, hopelessness are all emotions that make us less capable, less resilient, less adaptable, less creative. Facing the future, if I need to learn to dance with life in new ways, why would I want to tie hobbles to my legs? What I need is vision, hope, confidence in my ability, our ability, to rise to the occasion and do what is right and positive for the future of humanity and our world. Optimism and joy keep my juices flowing, my mind alert, my heart open. They are fuel for positive change, a fuel we most certainly need.
Finally, my fifth B is Be Kind. Whatever shape 2018—or 2019, or 2020, or any future year—may take, we will always need kindness. I could call it love, but that is a heavily weighted word. I may not feel I can always be loving in dealing with the world, but I can always be kind. Kindness lives and works in the little things we do; it doesn’t take much to be kind in the moment: a smile, a soft word, a willingness to listen, an offer of a cup of coffee, the presence of an open heart. What it does take is awareness, attentiveness, and willingness.
Preparedness, Resiliency, Adaptability, Optimism, Kindness: these are the “Be’s” that are buzzing in my bonnet. May their humming bring music and blessing to your life in the New Year ahead.
Everything that Incarnational Spirituality has to offer stems from this recognition of the light within each individual life. As the new year begins, consider exploring your inner light by joining us for Journey Into Fire: Awakening to the Light of Self. From January 18-February 21, Lorian Faculty Member Julia Spangler will gently guide you through practices and processes to understand and attune to the power of being yourself in this world.