I have been blessed in my life time to witness authentic leadership from many people ranging from Pope John XXIII to MLK Jr., from Dorothy Day to Nelson Mandela, from Mahatma Gandhi to Thomas Merton, to Sister Dot, whom we discussed in our second to last DM.
From contemporary men and women such as the Dalai Lama and Greta Thunberg to people of old including Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Aquinas.
Leadership requires trust and courage as we have seen.
We derive our trust from a larger reality, the universe at work, the same universe that has birthed our planet and our species and all the wonderful species we share the planet with and which has invited us to participate in its beauty and wonders and possibilities.
How do we do that? What is our calling, our vocation, at this time in history?
The universe and the earth are often doing the calling today. We need to listen deeply and especially to the pain and suffering that is calling us to our bigger and more generous selves.
Let us consider some insights about vocation or calling.
Following is a teaching from Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Original Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Nations of the Sioux:
Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind. Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger?
Know that you yourself are essential to this World. Believe that! Understand both the blessing and the burden of that….Did you think you were put here for something less?*
There is both a blessing and a burden to acknowledging our call to create and recreate, to gather with others in sharing and in leading, and Chief Arvol Looking Horse is speaking deep wisdom when he tells us that we “were put here” not for something less but for something great. This greatness takes both trust and courage.
It takes leadership not in the sense of being a lone wolf but in the sense of bonding with others who feel a call in a time of “terrible danger” and who recognize both the blessing and the burden of such a call. Prophetic movements and communities may prove more important that just prophetic individuals at this time. Movements and communities can be leaders.
Leadership is what humans do when we are putting our deepest values (our inner work) into practice and into our work worlds, when we render our values incarnate in our souls and our aspirations and the multiple ways we are called to share and interact with others. Some times we find support; and some times we find ourselves seemingly alone—but the universe, especially in pivotal times like ours, is supporting us.
* Quoted in Indian Country Today, “Important Message from Keeper of Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe” and Christian Thompson, Saskatchewan First Nations: Lives Past And Present, vii.
Banner Image: Ethologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace, with a chimpanzee. Dr. Goodall has studied chimpanzees since 1960, and today travels an average of 300 days per year to speak about the dangers facing primates and the planet, and her reasons for hope. Photo by Michael Neugebauer, on Dr. Goodall’s TEDx page.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you agree with Chief Arvol Looking Horse that each of us is here in this time in history to contribute to the future of humankind? And that you are “essential for this world?” What are the implications of this awareness, what follows from that?
Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action
By Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jen Listug
In the midst of global fire, earthquake and flood – as species are going extinct every day and national and global economies totter – the planet doesn’t need another church or religion. What it needs is a new Order, grounded in the Wisdom traditions of both East and West, including science and indigenous. An Order of the Sacred Earth united in one sacred vow: “I promise to be the best lover and defender of the Earth that I can be.”
Co-authored by Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson, and Jennifer Berit Listug, with a forward by David Korten, this collection of essays by 21 spiritual visionaries including Brian Swimme, Mirabai Starr, Theodore Richards, and Kristal Parks marks the founding of the diverse and inclusive Order of the Sacred Earth, a community now evolving around the world.
“The Order of the Sacred Earth not only calls us home to our true nature as Earth, but also offers us invaluable guidance and company on the way.” ~~ Joanna Macy, environmental activist and author of Active Hope.