It’s time to rise and shine Daily Actors!

YOWZA. I don’t know that I have words for the last month. New year, new political reality, wide range of emotions and a FLOOD of people rising up to find their voice and power, to organize and take action. You know what hasn’t changed? That change starts with each of us; the only power we have is that of our daily actions and that we must take action to create more healthy, just, sustainable and resilient communities.

For 16 years, since the dark days after 9/11, I’ve been warming myself by the fire of Clarissa Estes’ words above. Faced with problems that felt larger than life, it was a grounding reminder to be concerned about our worldly woes, but to spend our time mending and nurturing the parts within our reach. When we do this, our influence and power grows.

Fully lit and willing to share it

Clarissa’s words also reminded me that while I was waking up to tragedy and injustice, I was also deeply drawn to the people I was meeting that were fully lit and embodying the regeneration of self, nature and community. They were transforming gardens and neighborhoods and restoring forests. I was coming to see and believe that not only can we transform ourselves, our homes, gardens, neighborhood and communities, that starting small with what’s in our reach is a critical pathway to affect wider scale transformation. This was confirmed in the words of leadership author Stephen Covey, in the life and work of Gandhi, through the principles and pathways of permaculture and in many other places.

When fully lit, we are clear, strong and full of joy, connected to a deeper well that bubbles up with an infectious energy. Yes, there are times of heartbreak, of sadness, grief, fear and overwhelm. Many of us are in one right now. Feel and honor this, but don’t deny the power of your shine, especially in dark times. Remember to re-center on what you can nurture and mend, how to get relit and to share it with others in need.

As a white male, I can’t imagine what it is to be an immigrant right now, or understand the pervasive pain of misogyny or societal racism. But each of us can work to wake and help others do the same, to reclaim our power to change the frame and the structures that are unjust to people and planet. We start with ourselves, by embodying compassion, empathy, love and positive action.

A pain I do know that has informed my life is that of losing my parents at a young age. Today to the day, I am the same age my father was when he died at 46. To honor him I added a pear tree to our fruit tree fence before taking my daughter to an AMAZING event that Daily Acts participated in called Another World is Possible with 102 local organizations and over 5,000 attendees. This capped a mind-blowing week that included collaborative meetings with county Supervisors, state water agencies, local, regional and national organizations working on climate justice, creating a new economy and a range of other critical issues. Not to mention hanging out with rare fruit geeks at the Sonoma County Scion Exchange yesterday and loading up on varieties of fruit to graft onto our trees. To top it off, I opened the Sunday paper to see Daily Acts’ work featured in a special Sonoma Gives section of the Press Democrat.

Knowing that life can be brief and fleeting, I feel blessed to be alive in this big planetary moment, so full of beauty and hurt, and to have such an incredible community of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and movement allies. While many of you are deeply engaged in a range of important issues, I also know that there are countless new fires and urgencies pulling at our attention. Yes we need to step up, but it’s also good to remember the words of Thomas Merton who said…

To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom, which makes work fruitful.

What gets you fully lit and fruitfully engaged? What critical needs do you burn to address? How can you link arms and efforts with others? And importantly, how can we step up to the times, while listening to our inner wisdom and tending the fires of our most inspired contribution?