Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of things I have no idea how to do. I’ve been asked to do workshops and lead rituals and facilitate worship services. I’m helping to organize an environmental walkathon which is going to merge elements of protest with a less confrontational format. I am literally making it all up as I go along.
I’ve also been asked to speak about activism several times over the past year or so, even though I have much less experience than other people. I usually talk about the obstacles for people (like me) getting engaged and how more experienced activists can avoid some of the pitfalls which seem to keep their movements from attracting new people. One of those is the myth that you have to know everything or have all the answers before you get involved. (The very fact that I am speaking on the topic of activism is proof of this!)
I’ve also been getting out of my shell and engaging other people more, something which I am unaccustomed to as an introvert.
In the process of all this doing, I have discovered a new power–the power of jumping in.
You see, for most of my life, I have avoided doing anything that I did not already know how to do well. Naturally, I missed out on many experiences as a result of this. But I also missed out on opportunities to be of service the world.
Now I am learning that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” I am learning that sometimes it is just important to show up. And I am learning that there is a curious power that comes from jumping in.
God is Change. That means the world will not stand still for us. It will not wait for us to get ready or figure everything out first. Climate change is a perfect example of this. It is happening. And it’s not going to wait for us to figure out all the answers or learn how to be the perfect activists. We need to jump in and learn while doing.
Two poems by Adrienne Rich encourage me as I do this:
No one ever told us we had to study our lives,
make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history
or music, that we should begin
with the simple exercises first
and slowly go on trying
the hard ones, practicing till strength
and accuracy became one with the daring
to leap into transcendence, take the chance
of breaking down the wild arpeggio
or faulting the full sentence of the fugue.
–And in fact we can’t live like that: we take on
everything at once before we’ve even begun
to read or mark time, we’re forced to begin
in the midst of the hard movement,
the one already sounding as we are born.
My Heart is Moved
My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed
I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
God is Change. These poems remind me that there is no holding on the the present. I can only embrace the ceaseless flow of Change and do what I can to Shape God now.