Begin again

There are so many things that hover at the edge of our conscious attention day in and day out – whether we are eating, going to sleep, waking from sleep, reading, writing an email – the shadows of war, famine, pestilence, extinction. The horsemen of the apocalypse seem to be our daily companions.

And yet this moment, this place of clear stillness, is what it always was. Hopes and fears, dreams, nightmares and reflections, they all rest in the ground of being that holds our planet, and our sun, and on beyond to before things began. We are not separate, any of us, from being. Even on this earth we are not invaders; we did not arrive from somewhere else. Each of us was born of parents who were born of parents too, and our bodies are formed from the stuff of this world. Our minds too. What we do, great or small, healing or harm, is part of the great pattern of cause and effect that holds our planet in its orbit. We may die – each of us, soon enough; our race too, eventually, however long we manage to hang on. Things do. There is nothing that is not impermanent.

This is not a call to passivity. It is a call, as Paul Kingsnorth pointed out recently in Tricycle, to witness. To sit still in this moment is the only place to begin. We cannot know what our place is in time until we realise that we cannot know. Things weave together, and each of us is woven into what comes to be. It isn’t, really it isn’t, given to us to choose the colour of our thread or its place in the pattern. What we do, though it may cost us all we have and are, is not within our free will, whatever we think that is. Only in the deep stillness of our unknowing shall we know how to act, and in that moment our action will not be a choice, but only where we are. Sit still, and touch the earth.

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