Vision (with a capital V)

This is a transcription (more or less) of a sermon I gave at Albertson Memorial Church in Old Greenwich, CT on February 17. 

 

Happy belated Valentine’s Day!  Whether you celebrate formally or not, I hope it was a day of sweetness and affection with people you love.  My husband and I celebrated yesterday, because on Thursday I went to a V-Day event.  Do you know V-day?  Eve Ensler, who wrote the Vagina Monologues and other plays about women’s empowerment, has re-invented February 14 to be a day of standing up for the rights of women and girls, to encourage dialogue about violence prevention and the gender inequalities that exist all over the world.  It’s a grassroots effort that has spread to 167 countries.

This year, which is the 15th anniversary of V-day, Eve Ensler wanted to make it even bigger, so she used her enormous network to mobilize what she called One Billion Rising.  Did you see any of this?  Flash mobs with choreography, dancing, candlelight vigils, fundraisers for women’s shelters, discussion and advocacy groups, film screenings, public art… You name it, some group somewhere around the world was doing it, and all in the name of keeping our sisters and daughters safe and happy.  It was really beautiful to see the explosion of support for this and to watch the video feeds from India, Australia, within the prison system, across the US, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where violence against women is an appalling epidemic.   Those women danced – you can see it on Youtube.   And I thought, man, if those women, facing everything that they have been through, can join together and dance, I have no excuse.  So I joined a candlelight vigil in Purchase.

I wanted to mention One Billion Rising because when I was asked give the sermon today, I was charged some words about Vision (capital V).  How do we change the world?  How do we, as spiritual people, hold a vision that makes a difference?
When I think about vision with a capital V,  one of the first people that comes to mind is Martin Luther King.  And since we celebrated him last month, I’ve been thinking a lot about him recently, too.  It occurred to me that the “I Have a Dream” speech is so iconic and so well-remembered because he was speaking to the longing that we all have for things to be different; he was speaking to that capital-V-Vision that we all carry.  He was articulating the desire for something better, that fire in the bones that’s both collective and really personal. He was saying “I have a dream,” but he could have just as easily said “you have a dream” or “we have a dream” and he would have been right.

So these two heroes of mine, Eve Ensler and Dr. King, as different as they are, have held these huge, sweeping Visions of changing the world, and they both did it.  Inspiring, right?  And also, if I’m honest, a little overwhelming.  I can’t really imagine doing what Eve Ensler did this week.  She mobilized a billion people to all do something on the same day.  I’m lucky if I can get two of my girlfriends together for brunch.

Fortunately, I haven’t been called to do something on that massive scale.   My Vision is slightly smaller and uses my skills and talents– I want to teach a yoga class to help my students feel more comfortable in their bodies.  I want to work with this one client so that she approaches her relationship differently or learns to take care of herself in a better way.  I want to I write my blog or give this talk to day in a helpful way.  I want to be a good wife and a good friend.  Those are my Visions, and I trust that I’m changing the world one session or one class at a time.  It’s a ripple effect.

But back to Dr. King.

Every year on Martin Luther King Day, I listen to a song that Patty Griffin wrote a song for Dr. King called Up to the Mountain.  Do you know it?  Here are some of the lyrics.

I went up to the mountain
Because you asked me to
Up over the clouds
To where the sky was blue
I could see all around me
Everywhere

Sometimes I feel like
I’ve never been nothing but tired
And I’ll be working
Till the day I expire
Sometimes I lay down
No more can I do
But then I go on again
Because you ask me to

Some days I look down
Afraid I will fall
And though the sun shines
I see nothing at all
Then I hear your sweet voice
come and then go
Telling me softly
You love me so

This song moves me really deeply.  To me it speaks to holding a Vision, even when it’s hard.  Because it can be hard, sometimes.  We know it was hard for Dr. King and his family.  But we go on because we’re asked to— sometimes by actual people, sometimes by Spirit and our own inner stirrings.

You may know that I managed a 9/11 foundation for several years before coming to this form of healing work.  And there were days I really did not want to go to the office.  I didn’t want to look at Ground Zero anymore.  I didn’t want to hear another story about a person who needed help.  I got really burned out.   I had those days that Patty Griffin talks about – like I’ve “never been nothing but tired.”  I really didn’t feel equipped at all.  But, it also wouldn’t have felt right to stop.  I got up and went to work and did one task and then another task, one foot in front of the other, up the mountain.  Because I was asked to do it.  I was called to do it.

DSC05346And there’s nothing so special about me in doing that.   We have all climbed a mountain at some point.  I know that we’re surrounded by remarkable stories of people who are making that difference, not for praise but because it’s what they’re called to.  I’m sure you know one or two wonderful game-changers who just do what they do because that’s who they are – maybe you’re one of those people, and you think that no one sees you.  I see you.

And like I said about my Vision— callings don’t always need to be international uprisings.  We can start where we are.  We offer our medicine, our skills, to the people who are right here, now.

And our Visions can go beyond the realm of politics and social change, too.  I’m the youngest of six kids, and my parents both worked, sometimes two jobs, to make sure that there was food on the table and that everyone had what they needed. They had other dreams, too, of course, but their main work was to send six great, well-adjusted people off into the world. And they were tired.  I’m sure they felt that lyric, that they’d be “working til the day they expired.”  When there was a layoff or the car needed repairs or someone had a cavity, I’m sure there was fear that they weren’t equipped, and wouldn’t be able to hold it all together.  But they did the best they could.  Somehow, they put one foot in front of the other and kept going, they kept climbing.  Because that was part of their calling.  My parent’s Vision was to make sure they were the best parents they could be.

So, Vision with a capital V might mean saving lives or running for office.  But it could also mean doing well at work, or being with your family in a good way.  And because we’re human, and sometimes those mountains just seem too tall, we get bogged down in the frustrations and the details. I don’t think anyone is totally immune to that.

So how we keep our eye on the prize?  How do we hear that sweet voice that urges us on, especially when it’s drowned out by criticism, fear, opposition, and everyday distractions?

As a shaman, I turn to Mother Nature, who is way smarter than me.

In Peru, one of the major power animals – an archetype, really – is Condor.  We don’t have a lot of Condors in Connecticut, so you can think of Eagles or Hawks, if you like.  These big soaring birds are powerful allies in helping us with perspective and vision.  Think about how high they can fly, what they see from up there, getting the whole lay of the land, taking in miles and miles of landscape.  They’re not down on the ground, seeing only what’s right in front of them, right?  They get the big picture. And they can see colors on the spectrum that our eyes can’t detect.  Think about that – they see colors that we will never have names for, from hundreds of feet away.

colca_canyon_condorAnd consider what it looks like when a Condor or eagle is soaring—they are surrounded by light and air, and have wide open hearts.  There’s a Q’ero Indian expression of Condor flying wingtip to wingtip with the Great Spirit—it’s a beautiful image and it’s really what we’re all craving, I think.  Soaring like that is only possible when it opens its wings as completely.  They’re not holding anything back, not judging an experience as good or bad.  There’s an element of surrender.  Condors accept the totality of their experience.

And they let it be easy.  You don’t really associate Eagles with a lot of flapping.  They find the current and let it carry them.  Basically, they look for support and trust that it will be there.  They accept help.

So, I want to ask you now, what is the Vision in your life today?  Maybe you’re holding big visions to change the world.  Or it might be a more personal, to start a new business, navigate something gracefully, or be a better parent or partner.  Some of you might be holding the intention to find your Vision, because sometimes the mountain we climbed before isn’t the one we want to climb now.

Whatever is your intention right now, I’d like you to close your eyes and join me in a little meditation.  Feel your feet on the ground.  Feel your feet.   Call your intention, your Vision, into your mind, into your heart.  And now, invite Eagle or Condor or Hawk to join you here.  Really feel that presence – the soft feathers, the talons, those keen eyes.  What quality of that beautiful bird can help you?  Do you need to ask for support and let it be easier? Would you like to see the bigger picture and rise up out of the details and see things you might have missed before?  Do you want to open your heart, surrender to the entire experience and trust that Spirit is flying with you?  What feels most helpful to you in this moment?   If it feels right, make a commitment to finding one small way to work with this great bird to bring your Vision forward into the world.  Thank your bird and let it fly away.  When you’re ready you can open your eyes.

I encourage you to remember this little meditation and remember: Surrender.  Perspective.  Support.  Let yourself be reminded of the power of Vision whenever you see a soaring bird in the sky.

Because we need your Vision.  We need great parents and teachers.  We need heart-centered businesses. We need healers and activists and people who think outside the box.  We need inventors and artists.  As spiritual people, we are called to honor our Visions and help each other climb our mountains.

I wish you all the blessings of the Condor, and all the help you need in making your visions manifest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. I am inspired by your speech. It touched me very deeply. I have a Vision. I t is not clear but Iam m.oving in the right direction.

    Your writing gives me the feeling l can write from my heart and make a difference for someon. llike you have done for me.

  2. Beautiful Mikki — love seeing the Vision from the Condor’s point of view. Thank you for sharing your sermon on your blog as I couldn’t make it in person. =)

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