Thursday, December 1, 2016

"lean in toward the light..."

"the shadows of the world will say,
there's no hope -- why try anyway.
every kindness large or slight,
shifts the balance towards the light..."

I am living in a Carrie Newcomer-scored world of hope these days. Her recording of "Lean in Toward the Light." is my get-up-and-go song.

This afternoon my husband and his friend let me crash the tail end of their weekly deep dive into all manner of wonderful subjects. One of the things they were discussing was the concept of sacred truths. I was enthralled.  I could have listened for hours.  As I drove home, I thought about my own sacred cache of truths -- those things that I know to be true in my deepest part of my heart.

Over the last few years, I've done a lot of spiritual housecleaning. I've begun to differentiate between ideas that I find fascinating, stirring, and inspiring -- ideas that I like to ponder and explore, and those that I absolutely know -- and trust -- with every cell of my being. It's a small cadre of spiritual laws, but I lean into them without reservation.

One of those laws is something I think of as "spiritual tropism." As a teacher I remember learning about tropism in order to substitute for a fifth grade plant biology class. I was fascinated.  How did I miss this lesson when I was in middle school?  Webster defines tropism as: "the involuntary turning of all or part of an organism in a particular direction in response to an external stimulus." Think of a leaf turning towards the light, or roots reaching towards water.

This is not a choice made by the plant -- it's leaves, or its root system. It is not something that the plant can resist. It just is. It is a law.

For me, spiritual tropism is the involuntary movement of humanity towards God, Love.  It is seen in an involuntary turning towards goodness, beauty, order, honesty, kindness -- any manifestation of God's presence. This gives me great hope. Because if there is anything that I am absolutely certain of, it is this law. It is a sacred Truth for me -- the irresistible law of Love calling us into alignment with Itself.

This has been especially important to me as a mom. If I were to allow myself to think about my children going out into a world full of moral uncertainty and random unkindness, I would be paralyzed with fear. But when I think of this irresistible law, I am filled with a mother tiger-like fierceness.  For me, affirming the self-enforcing nature of this law -- for every human being on earth -- is a sacred demand.

This was never more powerful for me than when our daughter went to live in post-apartheid South Africa. This was a country in transition. Our daughter was still a teenager. Reports of angry young men preying on young women were ubiquitous. But spiritual tropism was a law. I leaned into it with all my heart. Trusting that the inner qualities of honor, integrity, innocence, and purity were more compelling than anger or lust was a lifeline to my peace. It still is.

As a neighbor and global citizen, I know I must stay firm in my defense of man's inalienable right to be governed by this law.  I cannot afford the luxury of believing that this involuntary call to goodness is a human choice, rather than an ever-operative law.  No matter how much it may look like a plant may have turned away from the light and twisted itself towards the dark, I know -- without a doubt -- that this is only an illusion.

I know that the plant is unable to turn away from the light. Because I understand phototropism as law, I never wonder if suddenly the sunflower will turn away from the light. It has no self-volition. I never worry about rogue flowers or trees.  I am confident in the power of light to draw every plant cell to itself. And because I understand the law of hydrotropism -- the roots of a plant will always seek out water -- I never wonder if the roots of a tree will suddenly start poking through the ground and reaching for the sky.

I feel the same way about each of us. We are impelled to grow in grace, to seek out good, to reach for love, to love honesty, to appreciate beauty, to trust truth.  I trust this law with all my heart.

It is one of my most treasured sacred truths. In its presence I feel secure. In its presence I rest.

offered with Love,


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:24 PM

    This... a thousand yes's! Thank you, Kate, for the love you shine in the world through your poetic writing. I 'specially love this post!