As we face the New Year, new vision is needed. We need new metaphorical glasses to give us 20/20 eyesight. What must be seen? What must be accomplished? What is “ours to do”? (as my friend Judy says).
I will pick up new glasses as I begin working with New Mexico’s Ghost Ranch in 2020. I will be leading more soul tending retreats there (and around the country) and fill the position of contemplative spiritual formation. It is a position I will be developing alongside the Program Director, Stephen Picha.
I want to recount a dream I had before Christmas. It came on the heels of this new work and also reading a brilliant interview in The Sun entitled, “The World We Still Have: Barry Lopez on Restoring our Lost Intimacy with Nature”, Lopez reminds us that it is communities in this time, who will be the hero’s and heroines, not one person. We need new narratives, new stories from many cultures, that engage all of us in defining and creating the answers to the challenges ahead—updating the old Western myths.
Coupled with my new work at Ghost Ranch, I realized that the dream was already preparing my soul to explore new horizons for the New Year 2020.
DREAM 12/22/19 “SHIPS ARE MADE FOR NEW HORIZONS”
I am in a vast boat. It is a sturdy merchant boat, not a Carnaval cruise ship. There are friends there, one in particular who has stage 4 cancer. Are we singing? Eating? Talking? We are just together in a group, I know that.
When the ship docks, I am collecting my things. Suddenly I realize I have too much stuff to fit in my bag. I need another box or container. I am desparately running around trying to find something to stash the rest of my stuff so I can debark from the ship. My friend with cancer and everyone else melts away and disappears. I am left frantic. I finally create a makeshift rubber sling of sorts and stuff it with my things.
Then I notice…the water is moving, the ship is leaving. I am now in full panic, running out in the halls to deadends, a maze of locked doors, trying to find the captain to stop, turn around, put me in a life boat and send me to the dock. No one. Nothing.
The dreams ends with me headed to open sea and new horizons. I don’t know where I’m going, but there is no way I can turn this ship around.
I awoke from this dream feeling unsettled. Troubled by the anxiety of staying on the ship and heading towards new and unknown horizons—fearful of the possibility that our ship might run into a massive storm out on the open sea. I hate turbulence.
As I explored the dream with my husband, the anxiety turned to a tiny surge, a tingle of excitement and exhilaration at the thought of setting out for new horizons. We pulled up articles and poems and thoughts about the ships and seas, horizons and mysteries of the deep.
I began to realize this was my dream, but it was also “our” dream. It was and is a collective and cultural dream of what we all face as we head into uncharted waters as humanity. We face unknown outcomes of massive challenges to our species, our generation. But we also have the collective and communal courage, brilliance and spiritual aptitude for such a time as this.
I am copying Clarissa Pinkola Estes words in full below. I read this first in January 2017. We need it again as we face 2020.
We Were Made for These Times, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés(January 2017)
I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
Our ships, my ship, is ready to set sail. We know how to do this. With 20/20 vision and new horizons, may we tend our communal and individual souls for what is needed.