REFLECTION on Matthew 5:13-16 – 9th FEBRUARY, 2020
(by Annemarie Reiner, Coordinator, Listening Heart Contemplative Centre)
When we refer to a person as ‘the salt of the earth’ we all have an image in mind of what that means. When we say someone is ‘a light in my life’ we also know what that means. During the bushfires that have happened and continue to blaze across our lands and communities, we are now hearing of stories and experiences of where the ‘salt of the earth’ people, and those who are ‘a light in my life’ have emerged and are inspiring us amidst all the horrendous suffering and loss.
These people often make suffering bearable. They expose us to courage, vulnerability, goodness and what it is to have compassion, to nurture and to Love. Such shocking tragedies often bring out the very best in us. They help move us out of our complacency and apathy and we put all sensibility, selfishness and fear aside and simply ACT from that deepest part of us. We instinctively become vulnerable. How many stories of vulnerability have we heard and will continue to hear that have emerged during these past months? Countless.
In a very real way, many of us have become sterile and allowed our ‘salt to become tasteless’, and have ‘hidden our lights under a tub’ – that is until something happens (like the fires) that can plunge us into who we truly are – people who have each other’s backs, people who will risk their own lives for the other and the ‘whole’, people who are generous, and are suddenly prepared to be vulnerable in ways they never imagined. All of us have been moved and horrified at the same time as we have watched and heard the stories. Many of us may well have been those who truly risked their lives for their ‘neighbour’ (regardless of colour, race or creed) and have survived to share their stories.
Almost certainly their lives and our collective lives will never be the same again. The Australian psyche has been forever changed and the World too has watched on in disbelief.
It seems that mostly we have to lose something before we are able to receive something. This seems to be part of our human condition. Whether it’s losing our security in such a wonderful country, whether it is the loss of loved ones or possessions, or whether we have experienced powerlessness in the face of what is before us, all suggest a loss of something, but also an extraordinary ability to become consciously vulnerable within it all. And it is this vulnerability that has the capacity to change everything for us and for our world.
We live in a time where our Earth is shattering many of our dreams. We no longer can feel secure and are scampering around trying to find ways to sure up our security and our consumerist world, we have been confronted with our powerless in the faces of the many natural forces our beautiful Earth has faced us with, and we are also confronted with just how vulnerable we are in the face of it all and we feel the very essence of our life is being threatened on many levels. We do not like it. Life as we have known it on our Earth is changing – that is our reality now. As long as we scurry around like rats in a feeding frenzy trying to shore up what we have had, and continue the life we have largely enjoyed, to bury our heads in the sand, to ignore our Earth that is pleading with us to LISTEN to Her, then we are like a person holding a garden hose to ward of being surrounded by hundred-metre-high flames in 100km hour winds. It can’t be done.
Our Earth is sending message after message to listen to her. Our scientists are begging us to see that life cannot go ahead with ‘business as usual’. We are not co-operating with our Earth; we are actually working against Her. Australia is quickly losing its credibility on the world stage firstly with our record of the way we treat refugees and secondly as a country that is in denial with regard Climate Change. There is no vision, no preparedness to become vulnerable, and no capacity to see past those words ‘a growing economy’.
Our politicians (on both sides) play us for fools, lie to us about reaching our emissions targets, play economic games with emissions figures, and encourage us to build more coal fired power stations, more dams, ‘adapt’ and become more ‘resilient’ is the advice coming from our Government. We are in CRISIS just as those who have braved these shocking fires are in crisis and are courageous enough to enter into a state of vulnerability and risk everything to survive and help others to survive. In this situation, if we are not prepared to risk, to become vulnerable, to be ‘salt of the earth’ people, to be ‘a light to the nations’ people, then we are leaving nothing for the generations to come and our very survival is in jeopardy.
Even if we doubt the Science (but with what evidence?), if we feel ourselves bound by blind political idealism and damaging loyalty, if we sense our own apathy, the call is to RISE and ACT – why would we jeopardise our human survival and the survival of all life on this planet because of our own selfish needs and often ignorant belief systems? But don’t we keep doing it?
If we are not prepared to become vulnerable, in every sense of the word, then we are ignoring the calls and cries of our Earth. If our Earth weeps, we will weep eventually. When we weep and our Earth weeps, the God within us also weeps. Our God is surely weeping even if we are too blind to see it. If we are not weeping within the Crisis we find ourselves in, then surely we do not know the God we proclaim to know? It is not a political issue, and yet we have politicised it. It is not an ‘us and them’ matter, and yet we have divided it in such a way. It is not ‘she’ll be right mate..’, because it isn’t right. We have now ignored the Scientific warnings and predictions for decades and we have had a taste this summer of what might lie ahead of us in future years – a summer that Science predicted. Our Earth simply will not tolerate being ignored. She is reactive to our ignorance and selfishness, because She, like us, has a deep desire to survive and live to Her full potential. She is like all of us and we are like her.
For those who do not want their privileged lives disturbed or disrupted, for those who have the most to lose as far as assets and business are concerned, for those who can’t be bothered with it all, for those who blindly go along with a particular ideology pushed by power mongers and so often received in ignorance and wherever the rest of us fit into this picture – the message is we must open into becoming vulnerable. We must learn to become courageous, be images of goodness, be people of compassion, and nurture Love all around us – including our Love of the Earth and Her Love for us. We keep breaking the bonds of that Love by our ignorance and refusal to ACT.
It seems pretty obvious that we would be most unwise to rely on the shocking and shameful inaction and political game playing operative within many of our politicians on all sides of politics. It is we the people who must now act. It matters the way in which we choose to live our lives. It matters what foot print we leave upon the Earth. Our consciousness about the Crises we are well and truly facing, matters deeply.
We have great power within us to change what our politicians are refusing to act upon. If we play politics with this, then we lose. What we need to do is embrace the Divinity within us that is prepared to become vulnerable for each other and for our World in a way where we truly become ‘the salt of the Earth’ and ‘a light to each other and other nations’. Because so many of our political leaders are gutless to truly lead, does not mean that is also our lot. It isn’t.
There have been extraordinary lessons emerging as these fires have burned through our various States and communities, and they have scarred deeply our souls and our landscape – our preparedness to become vulnerable perhaps being the most evident and the most Grace filled.
As Marianne Williamson says, and so many of us are familiar with this powerful quote, but perhaps we need a reminder of its confronting challenge to us all:
‘Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’
© Annemarie Reiner, originally published on Facebook 5th February 2020
REFLECTION on Matthew 5:13-16 – 9th FEBRUARY, 2020