Cleaning out a plastic tub full of my life’s memorabilia, I came across my old bible from when I was a teenager. I opened it, expecting to see 12 year old scribbles. Instead I found an array of intriguing post-it notes from a time when I began questioning my relationship to God. I was pleasantly surprised by the inquiry and critique I held at 19 regarding the beliefs I was looking to relinquish, and the new ones I was searching for that were more grounded in both unconditional love and in nature.
Of these, a Confucius quote struck me most relevant in relation to where I’ve landed in my path; “an individual reaches ultimately [their] greatest height, an equal of heaven and earth, by living in accordance to nature.” At that point I had no idea of the adventures and education that lay out in front of me that would bring me to where I currently find myself, to that place somewhere in between. My pendulum often swings between heaven and earth, the spiritual and the practical. To come to my highest reaches of potential for earthly and personal well-being is to exist in the balance between the two.
This past year that pendulum has swung into what seems to emphasize more of my earthly pursuits of sustainable and regenerative living, rather than the spiritual. While the spiritual definitely exists here, I haven’t been as focused on those dimensions. Why? I recently reflected on this while feeling surges of spiritual energies move through me that have been neglected, highlighting stuck places within me while sitting on the massage table and receiving reiki from a friend.
Perhaps I’ve come to mistrust it, the spiritual. Or maybe it’s just the spiritual communities I’ve come across. Even my integrative soul sessions with clients seem more practical than ever in the last six months. I aim to stay grounded, and remind others in their pursuits of the spiritual realms to remain here, present in this world. That is why we’ve come here, I often remind people: to be human.
Those lines can become blurred though and even my own judgements on what it means to live as human are short-sighted. What is it to be human anyway? The possibility for our expression of humanness is infinite. What concerns me on the spiritual path is the way illusion can take over, creating further perceptions of altered reality that contribute to unhealthy consumption and relationships. The dogma that comes from organized community thought, even those with the best intentions, can crystallize negligent behaviors and reinforce bigotry.
I’ve come to deeply appreciate higher education, as I have seen the ways that it has opened doors in my mind and helped to ground me in a more encompassing shared reality. Deep listening has been supported through these studies, aiding in my ability to hear more sides and clearing my intuition. It has also highlighted the privilege and limited reaches of quality education. We’ve tucked access to knowledge and wisdom into classrooms and databases, out of the hands from the general public. The consequences of this are immense.
We live within systems that demand our attention and energy, convoluting the path with time-consuming procedures and policies. It’s a delicate line to walk when seeking to successfully navigate being an adult, caring for ourselves and family, and tending to our responsibilities. In midst of this, mistrust runs rampant and the lines of science and spirit are blurred. Spiritualists time and again choose the illusion over the collective reality, forgetting to come back to nature and neglecting their duty as spiritual beings to steward of the earth.
This year I chose to keep my hands in the dirt, tending to webbed feet, composting my shit (literal and metaphorical), building gardens, working with community to build structures for people to enjoy, designing systems to make a livelihood that interacts with both people and the institutions around us. I believe more than ever that the world will be changed by those who engage with the systems that be, rather than turning away from it and seeking escape.
To be a world bridger means to stand between worlds, to connect those worlds, to build relationships so that various, opposing sides have a means in which to communicate and relate. The middle path then is to find ourself somewhere in between it all. It is to be both deeply humbled and to find meaning in every moment, while still finding a way to move through the world and build a life that showcases integrity and balance with the earth and those around us, in whatever way that means for our unique, individual lives. A life that seeks that type of critical consciousness can bring heaven to earth through our very ways of being.
As that Confucius quote reflected, by finding ourselves in between both the spiritual and nature, we have the potential to reach our greatest potentials within the human expression.