From Awe into Action

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Pat McCabe spoke at the Awake in the Wild Nature Summit this week

I just attended an online Nature Summit with inspiring spiritual leaders, environmental activists, artists, musicians, and poets speaking on how we take our deep sense of connection and love of the natural world into action. A global community Facebook page of fellow attendees made it feel like a real gathering rather than a solo internet experience. Since caring for the environment has always been my volunteer focus, I was elated to be in a community of like-minded people sharing photos, poems, insights, and perspectives.

One speaker who particularly inspired me was Pat McCabe, aka Weyakpa Najin Win, Woman Stands Shining, a Diné/Lakota woman who brings such core wisdom to the conversation. I found this quote online that captures much of what she said:

“You have to know Who you are, Where you are, and How it is. Who I am, in one view, is a female of the human species, or of the Five-Fingered-Ones. Why did I come here as this? Why does anyone come here, to this Earth-Walk Life as this? What does it mean and where should I look for this meaning? As I am connected to two systems of ancient humanity, the Diné and the Lakota, naturally I inquire in those movements. Here I see that I can call myself, Holy Earth Surface Walker, Life Bringer, Life Bearer. Here I see that my design is a design for Thriving Life and will bring forth the future, in generations, yes, but also in the fruitfulness of inestimable variety, exactly as the Mother Earth herself does. I am told that my biology affords a Spiritual capacity that is capable of profound Co-Creation and Cooperation with the Earth, as well as the Womb of the Cosmos, such that as she infuses me with boundless nourishment and nurturing, I am a fountain of care and generosity in my home, in my family, in my community, and in the cosmos as well. In this connection to her, I stand with her “authority,” always, as her agency, speaking on behalf of Life and Sacred Creation of every nature.”

Pat McCabe

What in this quote speaks to you? Do you feel a deeper sense of connection, a stronger understanding of your place in the world as a sacred being walking the sacred earth, not separate from it?

What do we do with our five-fingered hands? What kind of world do we want to co-create that will be of benefit for all life? Pat’s spirit ancestors say: “You guys can have it any way you want it and now you’re saying you want it like this. It has always been a choice.” 

Yes! We are always in a pivotal moment of power, we always have a choice, so let’s make conscious caring choices. We may think we are powerless, so we make careless choices that adversely impact all life, and we don’t even realize we are doing it. Little me? I couldn’t possibly have power. But we all do. Inaction is an action. Withholding is an action. Hiding is an action. It all sends out messages that are received and acted upon.

Pat added that what we do may seem small and insignificant, but every small action now has an even greater impact on future generations. So don’t be discouraged if your positive actions don’t seem to be making a visible difference. This reminded me of my mother who was a volunteer for peace and for women candidates who shared her worldview. She would get discouraged because it seemed the world was not getting any better. She died over thirty years ago so she couldn’t see all the fruits of her efforts, the difference her candidates made locally and nationally. We are all planting seeds. Whether or not we see the results of our efforts, let’s make sure those efforts are wholesome and beneficial to all beings. We are co-creating the world.

Paradigm Shift
Pat says that both men and women suffer in the “power-over” paradigm we have been living in. True masculinity is not destructive. Men are the sacred firekeepers, guardians, and tenders of life. We may bridle at gender-specific roles. Women are more than child-bearers, men are more than guardians. But the sacred masculine and feminine can be nurtured in us all. And we can recognize the problematic power-over paradigm when it crops up in our own thinking.

Other interviewees at the Summit, including Matthew Fox, Paul Hawken, Jane Hirshfield, Dan Siegel, Spring Washam, and Rick Hanson, were all very inspiring. As the six-day love fest of a conference wound down and the Facebook page filled with heartfelt thank you notes to Mark Coleman and his team, I sensed a bit of post-conference letdown.

But just then my local NextDoor community ramped up a so-far 80+ comments thread full of ways we can each change our water usage habits to meet our emergency drought situation here in our county. It turns out that the earnest caring creativity I’d found in the international community is alive and well in my neighborhood. And for that I am grateful. As I am for my sangha I lead every week, a geographically dispersed but intrinsically connected group of women deepening our practice, exploring the dharma, and supporting each other in cultivating skillful ways to fulfill our wisest intentions in our lives and the world.

One of my student/sangha sisters had to miss this meeting. An American-Israeli who lives outside of Tel Aviv, she posted on Facebook and then attended an impromptu Zoom meeting hosted by eight Arab and Jewish Israeli women. Just hours later, three hundred Arab and Jewish women of all ages joined together in song, prayer, and meditation. They had the deeply shared intention that their children and grandchildren would inherit a better place to live and to thrive. Together they felt their power to be a catalyst for change. They understood in their hearts that getting to know each other, listening to each other, feeling seen, heard, and respected, is the only way to create true peace. Now thousands are part of this burgeoning online community, and the path to peace — not just the absence of war — is clearer. They didn’t sit and suffer in silence, worrying and complaining, relying only on politicians to make decisions. They found their inner wisdom to join together for the benefit of all beings— a perfect example of a paradigm shift from ‘power-over’ to the unitive power of love for all life.

So, five-fingered earth-surface-walker, what inspires you to awe? And what action does your awe inspire?

Let me know your thoughts on this.

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