“They are all waiting: waiting for food…; waiting to go to work…; waiting for the system to help them help themselves achieve a better way of life.”
D. Ellis Phelps (2013)
Once a month, I practice Healing Touch with staff and members at Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas. This urban center provides temporary shelter, food, counseling, medical and other services to people in need and seeking to transform their lives. Here, I am privileged to touch people with Great Love. But is this enough?
Writing about “re-vision[ing] and re-member[ing] [his] relationship… with the people and land of Israel,” Aviva Joseph (Joseph, 2010) writes, “How can I continue to ignore or morally justify my privileges, my actions, the actions of my government, in the face of so much human suffering?”
I feel this sentiment at my core, especially on days when I visit Haven.
Between visits, however, I suffer from a kind of amnesia or denial that helps me settle comfortably back into the lifestyle to which I have become accustomed. I have plenty. Let me say that again so that I can hear it. I have plenty. And more, so much more than I need.
Most days, I feel and express deep gratitude for my lifestyle, for my wellness, for all of these blessings. But will you ever hear me complain? Yes. Sadly.
Do I consume too much? Sometimes: just one more scoop of Hagen Das. Do I fail to give freely of what I have? Sometimes: This is mine. Get your own.
Am I alone in this greed? Not at all.
According to American Heart Association statistics, “among Americans age 20 and older, 154.7 million are overweight or obese” (AHA, 2013). Further, “[t]otal self storage rentable space in the US is now 2.3 billion square feet…[approximately 210 million square meters]. That figure represents more than 78 square miles of rentable self storage space, under roof – or an area well more than 3 times the size of Manhattan Island (NY).” (SSA, 2013)
What are we doing here?
Some days, I expand with Great Compassion for all this misunderstanding. I think to shave my head, discard all my garments save one white robe, take to the streets begging like the Buddha. Then I remember the fate of Great Teachers of Love: Ghandi, Martin Luther King, The Christ, and I shrink.
Would it serve the world for me to do without? Many have taken this vow and yet, here we are, still impoverished, still wanting…something.
What is it that we really want? What is it that we really need?
It is Great Love.
Not like, “I LOVE Hagen Das,” or “I LOVE my new Mercedes Benz.” But Great Love, that which infuses and enlivens us, that which is pure and uncreated, that which is unconditional acceptance, harmony, beauty intelligence, and peace.
My individual purpose is to notice, here in my small life, moment to moment, breath by breath, word by word what I do and do not do, what I say and do not say that is in alignment with Great Love. And then, by grace, to bring to Light Great Love, manifesting it in as much as I am able.
A few years ago, my husband and I purged and released a storage unit we had rented for at least ten years. Not only does this save us $70 a month, we also freely re-purposed all of those possessions back into Universal Circulation. This effort may seem like a small action toward ameliorating human suffering and greed. I agree. It is a small action in the global scope of actions that can be taken, though the doing of it required great effort and determination on our part.
But, I say, this is all we can individually do: take one small action after another that seems in alignment with the Highest Good of All.
I cannot change you, your habits, or the cultural habits of the world. I can barely change me and my own habits, and that I can do only by grace.
I cannot travel to India and rescue this “Fallen Woman” (featured photograph). There are so many suffering. But I can, like Firoze Shakir, point to the suffering. He writes:i shoot beggars the undernourished the children of a lesser god beneath the ivory tower i won’t shoot sunrise sunsets or bees liplocked to flowers i shoot those whose dreams have soured…pictures move mountains with faith as their power. welcome to a poor man’s bower a moment a golden hour
I can only make change happen in my own life one small action at a time by cleaning out my own closets and clutter, eating one less scoop of my beloved dessert, driving a few miles extra once a month to practice present, compassionate listening.
I can lay all my guilt and worry down believing Great Love is enough. It has to be. And that the collective expression of this Great Love one small action at a time has power to “move mountains” and change lives.
Reflection: What small action can you take in your own life today that creates more alignment with the Highest Good of All?
American Heart Association (2013) “Overweight & Obesity – 2013 Statistical Fact Sheet”
Joseph, Aviva (2010). “Jerusalem: Know Hope” in Chalquist, C., Ed., Rebearths: Conversations with a World Ensouled (p.126). California: World Soul Books.
Phelps, D. (2013, Sept./Oct.). “Healing Touch at Haven for Hope.” Energy Magazine, pp.16-19.
Self Storage Association (2013) “Self Storage Industry Fact Sheet”