Watching the Oscars recently, something stood out as essential wisdom for our times. In a scene from The Two Popes, incoming Pope Francis says to outgoing Pope Benedict: “The truth may be vital but without love, it is unbearable.”
We are hearing from women who are struggling with the big truths facing humanity and our planet. The truths about planetary climate change confront us daily: raging wildfires, rising sea levels, melting ice, epic storms, species extinction and all on a scale that seems overwhelming and impossible to bear. Closer to home, we cannot hide from the truth of political polarization in our country that threatens to tear our democracy apart. Many of us are experiencing deep grief as we absorb the enormity of these truths and it can feel like there isn’t anything we can possibly do to make a difference. We are coming to grips with multiple harsh realities about our future on this planet. We’re being asked to get comfortable with the mystery and courageously face the truth of what is.
These words from The Two Popes felt like a beacon of light to guide us in this complex time. The BIG truths in our world are only bearable when they are wrapped in love and we believe this is the BIG work that we women are being called to do in the this new decade.
So what does this mean for us as women individually and collectively?
We found some guidance in a recent astrology post from Hare in the Moon. To help move us forward into the true Age of Aquarius, we need to differentiate between hope and expectation. Expectation is like petrified thought, trapping all your hopes and dreams in a specific form — probably one that is distorted and confined by an old reality. Hope, in contrast, is the fluid spirit of possibility – an energy that will lift you up and carry you forward regardless of how things turn out. Hope allows you to adapt and shift and thrive in the face of rapidly shifting realities.
We also find encouragement for choosing love as our form of activism from our dear sister Valarie Kaur, founder of Revolutionary Love and author of the upcoming book See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love. She says: “Love is not a feeling, it is sweet labor. Hard, ongoing, bloody – a choice we make over and over again. This fierce love is nothing short of revolutionary. We know love is the only force powerful enough to protect our communities and democracy today.”
Valarie’s words remind us of the visionary words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
How do we do this? How do we love in this time of so much polarization and hatred for the other?
Perhaps we need to start right where we are in our everyday lives. Practice kindness. Take that extra moment to let someone go in front of you in a line or traffic, smile at the next person you pass on the street, greet your checker at the supermarket, say hello and thank the person who delivers your mail, or packages, ask them their name, remember it, use it the next time. Take time to look at people when you greet them, see them. There is an epidemic of loneliness in our culture – people do not feel seen. Listen to someone who is not like you – be curious, interested in how they see things, rather than trying to convert them to your point of view.
Another way to practice love is to change the questions we ask one another, either one on one or in small groups. Try questions like: What brings you joy? What gives you hope? What makes you laugh? What brings you comfort? What gives you peace? What brought a smile to your face today? When was the last time something took your breath away? Tell me about it. What music makes you want to sing? What music makes you feel like dancing? Really listen when you ask these questions with a sense of curiosity, wonder, awe. Give the other person the space and time to really think about what they want to say. When they stop talking, ask them if there is anything else — and wait a few seconds. You will be amazed at what you learn and how connected this makes you feel.
Circle is also a valuable resource for processing and holding the grief and uncertainty that we are experiencing on a daily basis. Our experience has shown us time and time again the immense power of coming together in sacred circle with other women; this practice can help to build a nodal point of love and trust that will eventually grow into a radically transformative intimacy. Creating a local circle that meets regularly will help each individual woman to build her courage so she can show up fully with her eyes wide open to the big truths in our world. This is not fluffy or soft work; it may the only way to establish points of light in our communities that connect with other points of light to form new constellations of hope.
This time calls us into intentional community – with everyone, not just the people we already know. Opening our hearts feels risky, takes courage – and it’s one thing we can do to move forward through the chaos, shining light wherever we are. Circle practice can help us build intentional community by offering a safe space for exploring evolutionary questions, for finding common ground and opening our hearts to one another.