“There is no proof whatsoever for the story of three wise men, presumably astrologers, following a star to find a baby born in a stable and bedded in the cattle feed in a manger,” the speaker was saying in response to a mention of the New Testament account of that event. “They could not have followed a star, because all stars – and planets, for that matter – rise and set like the sun, except for the North star. The rising and setting stars are not always visible, and the North star always leads north, not into the Middle East. It is constant and does not move to lead people. That story was written by someone who hadn’t looked at the sky very much.”
The speaker had totally missed the point. The important part of that recounting is deeper than the provability of its details. Among other things, it tells of the ongoing search of humanity for that which is greater than humankind (called God by many), even though sometimes that longing is manifested in the denial that a greater aspect or entity exists. It also shows the need to leave the focus on habitual, surface life in order to find the Infinite, and the dedication of one’s gifts (and each of us has a gift to offer) to that which is beyond self.
We are again at the beginning of a new year, and this time, a new decade as well. It is easy, as we listen to the news and read the online feed on our phones or computers, to be aware of the innumerable chaotic, destructive, cruel and scary goings-on around us. It is easy to understand, if we look at these happenings, that if we continue on these paths, the ultimate end is possibly our destruction – or at least the destruction of our civilizations and planetary support systems. It is also easy to deny what we see and hear, and reassure ourselves that there is no proof of the certainty of these predictions and that of course, technology will save us and shield us from any ill effect that may – or may not – come.
The truth is that it is our reaction to events rather than the events themselves that makes the difference. I would prefer to look on 2020 with eyes of hope. That is not to say that I am blind or oblivious to the challenges of the times. I am fully aware of the possibility of various kinds of disasters that may happen. I do not deny the probability of some of these disasters if things continue as is. I simply believe that these are not cast in stone, and that enough of us can hold the vision of a positive outcome to allow such a positive outcome to manifest. It is said that one purpose of prophecy is to make people enough aware of current patterns that the patterns can be changed and the prophecy thus not occur.
However, to believe that things will improve, that all will be well, that the Earth will be saved from climate disaster, that people will live together in peace, respect and justice does not excuse anyone from the responsibility to act. We are all one, and change, whether positive or negative, affects us all. Each of us contributes, by action or even inaction, to the direction and quality of change. The key is that our thoughts and actions must be in alignment with the change we wish to see. If we wish to see more conflict between people, we will act towards others in hostile ways. If we wish to see an Earth healed of the fever of climate change and extinctions, we will make sustainability an underpinning of our choices and speak for the value of renewable energy. Our task is to hold the vision and act in alignment with it.
It is also important to recognize and respect the underlying Infinite reality from which our human story proceeds. Put differently, we need to be aware when it occurs of the arrogance which says that humans are all powerful and control nature and living outcomes, that we need nothing but ourselves. We need to set aside that arrogance, because it is only through connection with that primal energy which existed before the Big Bang that we derive our power. When we deny it, we cut ourselves off from the Source of our strength.
As we enter 2020, let us each examine what it is we wish to create in the coming decade. It is a complex question and requires complex answers. Our answers in one way or another will support continued life, peace and joy or will support ongoing destruction and diminishment. The choices of each of us matter, not in a legalistic sense, but in an artistic one, as a brush wielded to make a painting or a tool that helps to carve a sculpture. What vision will we hold, and can we act in alignment with that vision?
Happy New Year!