The rise of the near-full moon in early November took my breath away. Sundown often shows a soft pink blush on the eastern horizon, but this twilight showered us with beauty beyond measure.
The truth of nature
In these times of political turmoil, opening to truth—that is, to nature—is crucial. Even if natural forces are destructive, such as forest fires billowing in California or sea levels rising on Pacific islands, the sheer truthfulness of their power proves an antidote to lies. There is no arguing with fire or wind or water—or pink moonrises (though people try). Nature wins in the end.
Opening to truth might look like opening to truthfulness in one’s own being—who I am or what my truest path is. It might look like standing up for transparency in the public square—writing or demonstrating or organizing for truth. It might look like opening to the beauty of a moonrise.
Truth and compassion
But whatever form opening to truth takes, it is also an opening to compassion. Facing reality requires deep patience and kindness—a profound willingness to be with what is, whether pleasure or pain. Reality renders each of us vulnerable—to accidents, illness, and death. If we open to this reality, we will be compassionate, not just because truth trains us in compassion, but also because it takes a profoundly open heart to face our own vulnerability. A falling away from truth is a failing of the heart.
We are all equal
What the beauty and suffering of nature teach is that we are all equal. Inescapably equal. Nature is a grand democracy of coming into being and passing away. Accepting nature’s equality releases us to a profound freedom—the freedom to allow truthfulness, the freedom to allow equality. Though we try to separate ourselves from one another by awarding more resources or freedom to some than to others, every such act is a denial of our fundamental equality.
2017 and truth
I began this year by writing a “Letter to America” reflecting on truth, guided by the Declaration of Independence, by Civil Rights marchers, by water keepers at Standing Rock. The year has witnessed many new truth records. Denial of truth—or of heart—has been on full display, with climate change deniers digging in their heels and the president telling thousands of lies, a record-shattering average of more than five a day.
Yet during this year we’ve heard an astounding amount of truth telling as well—truth about sexual harassment, about police violence, about a criminal conspiracy to steal an election, about the racism that structures our society. For all the cruelties of this past year—and every cruelty required a denial of truth—this year we have also seen astonishing welcomes for those who broke the silence or took the knee or wore pink hats or otherwise stood up for truth and justice.
Truth and the heart
At this turning of the year, we need truthfulness now more than ever. The world needs each of us to further the truth in the new year—in our own lives, in our communities and our society. May we grow in our ability to face the beauty and pain of nature and to respond to what is with greater courage and compassion. May we grow in opening the heart.
Wishing you a happy and truthful new year.
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