Sacred Community: The Art of Devotion
by Paul Hunt Cuffee, RScP/LSP
We see mothers standing guard
In the streets of Portland
Mothers standing arm in arm as sentinels
Heavily armed sentries
Staring down centuries
Of heavily armed oppression
This progression is
The Mother of Community
The Mother of Unity
There in Portland
And here at home
Linked arm in arm
Standing in the way of harm
That sentries and centuries of violence
Would bring to their seeds
In our garden.
Devotion is not
It is a
Demonstration of Love
Standing arm in arm
Staring down sentries and centuries
Of what is no longer acceptable
To their community
Sentinels of Unity
Saying No More!
Saying: We are here now, and we see you!
We Are Love in Action
And Love is the Law.
We Are All New Here.
Yes indeed, we are all new here. This pandemic, these pandemics that have taken up residency in our lives and in our consciousness have fundamentally altered our existence. We all know that. The question is: What are we doing about it? How are we, how are you, managing to create or sustain safe and nurturing spaces in your life and in the lives of your loved ones? How are you creating and sustaining your Sacred Community, your “Island of Sanity,” as Margaret Wheatley so brilliantly names it?
Mark Nepo, in More Together Than Alone says:
Our sense of community depends on our foundational understanding of life. If you believe in a world that is not connected or interdependent, but is chiefly competitive, there’s a limit to the degree of trust you can find in life, and a limit to the degree of compassion you can wholeheartedly release. If, however, you believe in a world that is infinitely and irrevocably knit together, in which one spiritual power animates and connects all living things, then there’s no limit to the trust that you can invoke beyond your single life. Through that trust, there is no limit to the degree of compassion you can summon toward other living things, and no limit to the kinship you can discover with all aspects of life.
No limit to the kinship.... Please contemplate that for a moment. Kinship—and its limitless nature. Knowing we are all connected and knowing we are all interconnected is the exact manifestation of the kinship we all live within. There is simply no way to deny that connection, no way to escape it, and no way to not be a part of this world, this life, or the Divine Spirit residing in each and every one of us.
You may choose to resist, though resistance is futile. You may choose to become passive and allow life to “happen” to you, but you cannot escape the connection. Just think of this: When you are called to bear witness to 500 white suburban moms and grandmoms standing with arms locked together, facing down heavily armed paramilitary forces, steadfast and unwaveringly, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, you have to know you are bearing witness to Kinship. You are being called in that moment to bear witness to the power of Love. You are being called, in that moment, to bear witness to the power of unity. As you bear witness to all of that enormous Divine Power, you must also bear witness to the manifestation of Sacred Community.
You see, kinship is inescapable. Our connectedness is inescapable. Even our inherent unity is undeniable, but community is a choice, and Sacred Community is a sacred choice.
So what do I mean by Sacred Community ? A community is most commonly recognized as some sort of social unit built around some sort of commonality, be it religious, political, economic, or cultural. Sometimes communities are based on region, like the communities of Albuquerque, Denver, or New York City. Other times communities are subgroups within a larger group, like communities of color, or indigenous communities, or the Italian-American community. Communities can also form around commonly shared interests of self-preservation and solidarity, like the LGBTQ community—born from an urgent need to assert their basic humanity and to fight to establish their civil rights and their Divinely ordained human rights. Labor unions are forms of community built around the execution of a craft, the fight for fair wages and working conditions, and an assurance that the concerns or grievances of the community members will be aired and recognized. Universities and other learning institutions are communities built around intellectual pursuits, and the list goes on. So what of Sacred Community?
I choose to believe a Sacred Community is built around principles of Spirit. Principles like abundance, compassion, generosity, and love. Sacred Communities, as I am using the term, are predicated on the ethos of harmony, inclusion, compassion, care, mutual sustenance, the empowerment of the individual within the community and without, and most importantly, love. To me, Sacred Community is another way of saying “A World That Works for Everyone.”
Sacred Community is at its heart a demonstration of a willingness to connect. Through willingness to be connected after wounding, we actually heal old wounds and experience the thing we all most long for. You see, I believe that we think we long for safety and security from being hurt and wounded, but it’s not true. I believe we long to interact as our true whole selves and to be seen and loved as such and to do the same for the ones we love.
When we let go of the confusion that fear from hurt causes and we dig down into our true longings, we will find that the experience we long for is an experience of Oneness, which I believe can only be fulfilled through connection and our sense of belonging. Sacred Community to me is the intentional creation of an environment where this connection is not only possible, but nurtured, cherished, enriched, and cultivated to its fullest potential. Sacred Community is the coming together of diverse and divergent individuals around the notion that Love is the Way. And right now we must dive deep into Love.
It’s obvious that power for its own sake has failed. Things—material possessions—are no bulwark against the despair being experienced by many, and consumerism, some may argue, is how we got here to begin with. Whether or not that is true is less important than the truth that many people are feeling that way.
The truth is that Love is the lifeboat that is carrying us all right now. All of us—right now. Love is the only power that can carry us through and beyond what is being asked of us right now. That Love is most radically expressed in the space of Sacred Community.
In Sacred Community we can hold space for the pause, space for the reflection, space for the contemplation, and space for the revelation of wholeness to take hold in our consciousness and guide us to our next right steps, or our place of inner peace, or our own personal expressions of truth, setting free our hearts. In the pause, found most readily in Sacred Community, we are offered the space to breathe, and the practice fundamentals that support that breath, that pause, and that space of inner peace.
In Sacred Community creativity is fostered, and agility (so critical in times of challenge such as these) is honed. We are thus empowered to weather the storm as the “I” at its center, joining in love with the I Am at the center of all being. Often, when feelings of suckiness, uncertainty, and dread abound, turning within—through the gateway of Sacred Community—alters those feelings to excitement. Only Love is big enough to douse that alchemy.
In Sacred Community, the space is made for your heart to break wide open and allow Love to fill the space that fear abandons. In Sacred Community we get to know and express devotion. Devotion to each other, Devotion to our selves, and devotion to Love. When we devote ourselves to the knowing and experience of Good, of God, we can hold on to hope and let that fuel our way forward to manifesting our vision for better.
And so I leave you with this:
I know that I know that I know
And I’m not afraid
That I can feel
What I see
That I can hear
What is true
In the rhythm of my heart
On the canvas of my spirit
I know that I know that I know
And I see clearly
What is being shown
Paint with me the tapestry of Love
And I will sing with you
The chorale of Life
Whose chorus is
And Realization and Gratitude and Release.
We are all new here. Every day, in every way, we are new to each moment. And so it is; in each moment we can create community, we can express devotion, and we can realize amity and unity and Love. Anywhere we may find our self.