by Gregory Hermann
“Nothing ever grew from the outside in.”
Richard Wagamese: Embers
Mr. Wagamese is quoting one of his Ojibwe elders as he reflected on his personal growth. He gave me pause to reflect on how my life focus and perspective continue to evolve.
Personal development of ego seems necessarily dependent on the ‘outside-in’ view of life. I look for approval from parents, teachers, friends … society in general. While the judgements and opinions of others are the primary source of education in our young lives, conflict arises when personal values arise from a place deeper within. As Spirit becomes more apparent, trust and faith are evolving, often with conflict, pain and fear.
As we move through and beyond our teens, the conflict between external judgement and internal, heart felt purpose challenge our very being. My personal response was to ignore what did not feel good. Thus, I ignored conflict until my sense of sanity eroded. That is when I began to recognize my addictive nature. My primary addiction was to my own way of thinking. And it was quite easy to find others who shared my way of thinking which left me with a confidence that only intensified my internal confusion.
Finding compatible, like-minded people is easy. Look the varieties of religions, each claiming a source of Divine authority and dogmatic truth. Our politics attract us to the point of narrow-minded acceptance to a cause rather than a participation in Divine purpose.
There are natural laws and truths that don’t appear to blow in the political or religious winds. I find constant instruction: “look within”, “be still”, “be not afraid”. Consistent with these instructions is the reality of ‘both – and’ rather than ‘either – or’. There is an ongoing cycle of peace – turmoil – resolution; life – death – resurrection; health - illness – healing. There seems to be no escape from these realities.
Well, maybe there is no escape, but I am finding a growing peace that evolves with the acceptance of these realities. That peace, for me, always comes with my willingness to connect both internally and externally. Internally I grow with Divine presence. Externally the Divine presence takes on flesh and expands beyond me with demands of humility, respect, courage, truth, virtue, wisdom, all of which are expressions of a love beyond understanding.
So, here we are in political turmoil, racial injustice, pandemic fear – you and me. I am grateful for you and me because we are peace, courage, truth, wisdom, and ……… the greatest of these is our love.