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Beside Restful Waters

by Gregory Hermann

“For a lot of people in the Movement, our participation gave us a craving for spiritual depth…”

Rose Freeney Harding, as quoted by Fr. Richard Rohr

Our participation gave us a craving for spiritual depth….

Over the past few weeks, we have moved from ‘prayer as simple as breath’, ‘taming of demons in order to recognize our angels’, and the power of our demons to transform.

Breath demands presence, as I can only breath now. Mindful breath is now. To tame my demons, I must get to know them now – I have to be with them now. Only then will they transform. I must participate with my demons.

I have to participate with my demons. I have said it many times, I prefer to avoid, deny, and escape my demons rather than befriend them, know them, and fall on my face in a desperate, humbling act of surrender. I do not do humble well.

I don’t do humble well!

So how does this involve people of the Movement? The Movement is the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and 60’s. Rose Freeney Harding was the wife of civil rights leader Vincent Harding. Their participation in the Movement demanded their spiritual depth. Absent spiritual depth, a peaceful Movement quickly descends to rage, violence and destruction.

This gives me a moment of pause.

I pause in reflection of discussions I have had with members of the American Indian Movement. They spoke of their rage during their stand off at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 60’s when they were facing military opposition. They were reminded of their Sacred medicines – their Sacred Pipes, their Sacred Drums, their sacred songs. It was their relationships to their sacred spirituality – the voices of ancestors calling them to their Spiritual roots. Their courage then gave them strength to face military resistance without guns, hostility, rage. Rather, they responded in peace.

Our source of energy is born of participation and spiritual depth and peace. Our spirituality is active, an expression of relationship, an expression of community, an expression of mystery.

My wife often reminds me that love is a verb, not a noun. Love – spirituality – is active – in the present. I cannot wait for some condition to occur before I act. I cannot wait for a new president, a new boss, a new job, or the next whatever. I only have now.

I am learning to breathe in the moment.

I am learning to know my demons, now.

I am learning to allow my demons to transform me, now.

I am learning to accept being upside down, changing my way of thinking, morphing into something strange, new, and often frightening.

This is what I can do.

This is what we can do.

This is who we can be.

We are the medicine, the change, the participants.



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