Editor’s Desk: Wisdom Requires Community

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Almost every day I hear from a friend who’s feeling overwhelmed by the pace at which life is coming at them. So many of us are struggling to find ways to avoid becoming disheartened by the immensity of what is required to keep our emotional and physical bodies above water.

My saving grace is to remember to circulate, not isolate. It’s essential to get out of the house and rub shoulders with life – even as we are being seduced with the perfume of the mainstream media that bewitches us into becoming paranoid and paralyzed with its continuous loop of disasters, political shenanigans, economic downturns, and other miseries.

Recently a friend sent an email describing her dilemma regarding staying positive. She wrote (in part):

“The other day I had lunch with a friend who I think of as my most spiritual friend. She only wanted to talk about politics and all the related problems and scary things that go with it. I had to ask her to stop talking on such negative subjects, as I feel strongly that our thoughts have influence. I want to put out positive thoughts, not negative. She, on the other hand, feels that we must look at everything – even that which we are powerless to deal with (except perhaps by signing email protests, calling government officials, or walking the streets with groups/signs).” 

I understand her dilemma. I too believe that our thoughts have great influence over our lives. However, I would ask: does the focus on constantly being positive avoid some of the complexities of the times in which we live? Does not our commitment to stay in a constant state of positivity create a one-dimensional persona? Does the monophonic attempt to play only a hopeful chord deny the “reality” of the current symphony that is resounding? And then, how might we keep our heads above the water, so to speak, if we look more fully and breathe in more deeply the challenges we face in today’s world?

I, as do many others, want to turn my head away from the perils and storm-filled times in which we live. I want to pull the covers up over my head and lose myself in a myriad of many tempting distractions. However, if I look deep in my heart I feel the wiser course is to expand my view from a singular positive picture to a fuller understanding of the current situation. And I am confident that along with this understanding comes a bigger container in which to hold it. As I address this issue I’m reminded of a set of questions that Juanita Brown, a business consultant, once posed on New Dimensions that begins to address that bigger picture, which then empowers our knowledge. She advises us to ask, “What is trying to emerge here? What is worthy of our very best effort? What can we become that would be worthy of our full engagement in community for the larger good?”

These questions can move us into a larger context: one which can more easily be illuminated by wisdom. It is my belief and experience that isolation is anathema to wisdom. It is easier to tap into this deep well of wisdom in community.

I encourage us all to make a commitment to get out and circulate. Remember that circulation brings surprising gifts, synchronicities, allies, and opportunities, and spirit wants to help. In order to receive this gift of divine assistance we need to make ourselves available by stepping out of our small isolated rooms to circulate in the fertile flow of life.

– Justine Willis Toms