The Hard and the Hopeful
I love our community of soulful seekers for many reasons, but one of the most basic is that you are all willing to go down beneath the shine, the gloss, and the superficial into the real, the tough, and the hard. For we all know that when we are willing to get real we don’t lose the shine. In fact, the reverse takes place: we grow in strength, vitality and beauty. We shine out even more luminously and brilliantly.
Many of us have lived our lives up against necessity. It is easy to forget that necessity was once viewed, in all seriousness, as Necessity, with a capital “N”. That is, as a Goddess.
And you don’t mess with Her.
Because of this you understand that magic, prayer and blessing, ceremony and ritual are not goods reserved for a luxury leisure market. They are essentials that directly inform us right here and right now, and indeed help bring us into a more productive relationship with that oldest of Goddesses, Necessity.
When life throws you a curve and you have nothing else, you still have the Sacred Arts and all that they hold. No matter what. We find our blessings in our broken places.
It is also true that because our community is full of real people with real challenges — we are not the stuff of glossy magazines or Vaseline coated lenses — it can sometimes feel like the good, the blessed, the fruits of our labors, are always just out of reach.
We work our tails off, but the rewards we are hoping for or the treasures we seek are one more, ten more, a hundred more, steps farther down the road. In spiritual circles and communities, it can often seem as though it is somehow “not allowed” to talk like this or think like this or feel like this. It’s a buzzkill, or “low energy” or “bad vibes” or not in alignment with our highest good.
Now we know well enough that the hard parts of our stories are not the whole of our stories. But we also know that they are present. They are there. You can run but you can’t hide from them – nor should you. As a leader in our community, as a teacher, and a counselor, I see the struggle we are all engaged in and I am engaged in it too, right there with you, shoulder to shoulder.
So, in this last lunar letter of 2017, I want to give you a story of hope. Hope is a feeling, a power, a virtue that has perhaps been difficult to come by for many over the course of this last year.
I wanted to begin by giving voice to what many of us have experienced in the struggle, because the only kind of hope that matters is the kind that is tough enough and tender enough to look at real struggle head on, not flinching, covering over, or trying to hide when faced with the hard.
In order to practice hope we need stories that reflect hope, so indulge me while I share a very personal one with all of you.
Let’s begin with the Full Moon. As you read this, the Full Moon is in Gemini. Gemini is the first Air sign of the zodiac – a sign of sharing, ideas, connection, deep message, and true voice. Finding true voice is something that many of us struggle with today.
The world is so noisy that it is hard to hear ourselves think, seemingly impossible to hear ourselves speak out loud or write words down that reflect what we know to be real, true, and meaningful, what we know to be sacred and blessed.
For me, true voice, has always been especially hard. Starting out as I did with a cleft pallet, two major surgeries and years of speech therapy, it was literally an uphill battle as I learned to use my voice, to speak, to express myself.
When I did discover my voice I realized it was different from everyone else’s. I saw things differently, and I responded to information in a different way. I asked (and still do ask) a lot of questions to the chagrin of family members and students. (I say “a lot” of questions, but that is probably downplaying it: they would laugh and tell you “thousands”.) I will sometimes make light of the heaviest situations and I can get dead serious when people least expect it.
My voice has led me to strange and wonderful places – to being the only woman in various debate competitions, to studying classics in college and being the first in my immediate family to graduate; to teaching adults and facilitating classes for adults on classical texts from around the world; and of course to working as a Sacred Artist for all of you my dear soulful seekers.
In business, my voice has led me to say a loud NO to attitudes and opportunities that everyone else seemed to say yes to. It requires me to write letters (like this one) that are longer than what anyone recommends.
It has asked me to make myself personally available and not walled off by a team to my community, my students, my people.
My true voice says NO to sales funnels, slick marketing, mystifying the Sacred Arts, or positioning myself as an “expert”. My voice has said YES to teaching even when I was sure I was not ready, to taking on the role of leader in various communities that I serve even though I wanted to serve, not lead; to skipping the intermediate steps in the labyrinth and going straight to the mountain, and to moving on with it already.
I listen to my voice and I follow it, because I know first hand how easily it can be lost, because as a very young child I worked like the Devil to gain it back; and also because many of my ancestors had voices that were not ever really heard, not ever really acknowledged. And so when I speak, I speak not only for myself, I speak for them too, and for those who will come after I am gone. I feel that responsibility every day. I know many of you do too.
Listening to my true voice has not always been easy. It has made my life better in innumerable ways but it has also made it hard in that it requires work, daily showing up, real effort, seeking for knowledge and right action, one foot ever moving in front of the other.
One of the things that occurs when you begin to listen to your true voice is that you hear the answer “No” quite a bit. And it isn’t “No, you aren’t worthy” or “No, who the hell do you think you are to try that?”
It is more along the lines of “No, not that way.” “No, not right now.” “No, not for you, not ever.” If you are really listening to your true voice, you can’t argue with those true No’s. You have to practice patience and you have to have mercy on yourself.
You will also receive external No’s because you are greeting the world with your true voice – not the voice that is expected or demanded or foisted upon you, but your voice, your ideas, your words, your vision – and many times the world at large just seems not to get it, not to want it.
But then some people do. They become your community as you all have become mine. Often from that community comes financial support which is vital and needed. Always from that community comes another reason to keep on in your work. Because even if you are only sharing your true voice with one other person, it might change something in that person that would never otherwise be changed; it might heal a heart, save a life, make the day a little more doable, and that alone is worthy and worthwhile.
Some true voices find the ways to speak, to write, to create and they are the ones we hold dear, look up to, and feel inspired by. They become our creative North Stars. I’m not sure what alchemy or magic occurs that makes it possible for one’s true voice to be heard above the fray, but I am sure that whatever else it requires, it demands work. Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, totally un-sexy toil and devotion.
It also requires friendship, because your real friends will see your true voice, and they will cherish it, encourage you to remain in it when you are wondering “is this really worth it?” Sometimes your friends will be the ones who open the door for you so that someone else can hear that voice too.
I won’t say that if you work hard enough the door will always open. You know too many stories and I know too many stories where that is simply not the case. But what I will say is that when the door does open if you have spent a lifetime making the effort and facing the hard then you are ready for what lies ahead and you can meet it with hope.
In October I learned that such a door had been opened for me. One of my favorite publishing companies, one that I admire ethically as well as for the works they release into the world, Sounds True, offered me a book deal. Having a book published has been a dream of mine since early childhood. When other little girls were planning their fantasy wedding, I was planning my author bio – true story! But throughout the years true voice said “Not yet.” “Not now.” “You need to do this first.”
As the years went on the dream of publishing a book seemed a fainter though still a burning star within me, but Necessity had me working on other things – like building our community, teaching classes, working one on one and in an intensive manner with a small group of students, hosting gatherings, and so on. These were the things that needed to happen first, needed to happen now.
A year ago, with the trepidation someone feels when approaching a beloved dream, I sent in a proposal. I pulled a card and got the Devil. This would be a dance that would keep me on my toes. There would be some hard and I had to meet it with hope. I made a dear friend along the way; I learned the true characters of others and gained insight into myself, and now I am writing a book about magic – not what other people say it is, but what we know it to be, what my true voice has taught me about it throughout these years. She will be born in the Spring of 2019. I’m still in awe.
Now I know that if I followed the current state of things I’d make a brief statement about how awesome it all is and then go back to posting pics on instagram…but my true voice won’t let me do that.
Instead I want to say that this is yet another of countless examples all around us that serve to remind us that when it feels like our efforts and our work and our dreams remain unseen and unheard and unrealized, that they are seen, they are heard, they can be realized, and the hard that you face and struggle with today can be the seedbed for the hope that you will be able to give to someone else tomorrow.
That’s the truth about hope. It is meant to be shared, and it dies when you hold onto it only for yourself. You all have shared hope with me in countless ways. I know that magic of our shared hope is part of what brought a book deal and publishing into my world. There aren’t enough words to say thank you, so instead I will promise to work hard, do my best, lead with my own true voice, and carry that hope back to each and every one of you as often as I can.
In love and blessings always,