I want to write about faith,
about the way the moon rises
over cold snow, night after night
faithful even as it fades from fullness,
slowly becoming that last curving and impossible
sliver of light before the final darkness.
But I have no faith myself
I refuse it even the smallest entry.
Let this then, my small poem,
like a new moon, slender and barely open,
be the first prayer that opens me to faith.
– Faith, by David Whyte
Our world seems to be sliding into crisis. Many feel helpless, some hopeless. What we see writ large on the political stage reflects deep divides and differences in how we human beings fundamentally understand reality and relationship. How can we possibly cooperate to respond to the staggeringly complex and enormous challenges we face? How can we create on this planet the health, sustainability, and well being for all that we sense and imagine is possible? On a personal level, how do we cope with the increasing stress and overwhelm of daily living? I feel all these levels deeply inside myself and in my own life.
What “opens me to faith” is the vision of building empathic community grounded in the foundation of empathic connection and conversation. There are powerful language and communication skills to learn, yet more importantly to me is the fathomless mystery and beauty of consciousness. Empathy is the feeling and knowing of our underlying commonality, regardless of differences in belief and behavior. Consciousness is this infinite ocean of universal connectedness that we experience as awareness and aliveness beyond the sense of a separate and personal self or ego.
Community is the experience of this on the social level, the feeling of many being one whole. Experiencing this quality of community nourishes, strengthens, and uplifts. It makes us more resilient, creative, and collaborative, in synch with Life’s rhythm and flow. It allows us to reconcile and heal conflicts and opens us to new possibilities and potentials.
Our days are filled with the endless to do list. The pace of modern life moves like a swift river sweeping us up in its strong currents. Unless we find a way to slow down there is no space to connect empathically. The slowness and spaciousness of empathic conversation is a practice I believe important to happen daily, multiple times a day, and with people in the organizations and networks in which we work as well as in our personal lives. It will take courage and deep commitment.
The vision I have of empathic community is an interconnected web or tapestry, the threads of our lives woven into a practice of empathy and mindfulness in conversation. Does humanity have the capacity to meet this moment in history, this crisis in evolution, in a way in which we evolve, or do we not survive? “Let this then, my small poem, like a new moon, slender and barely open, be the first prayer that opens me to faith.”