The season of Epiphanytide is still amongst us. Within this season also falls Martin Luther King Day. We must never forget that systemic racial injustice continues pervading the western cultural milieu and is still very real and very present. Let us consciously bring our attention to generating the energies of goodness, truth and beauty, as well as love within ourselves and intentionally direct them toward healing this reality.
In her book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifest of Revolutionary Love Valarie Kaur shares from her Sikh tradition a practical way of engaging and offering our attention in that aim. She calls it the way of a warrior-sage passed down to her from her grandfather Papa Ji. She invites us all into her “expansive, compassionate, nonviolent, and life-enhancing way” interpretation, saying that we can be warrior-sages too. She acknowledges that not everyone interprets the Sikh warrior tradition this way. Some have even used the tradition to justify cruelty and violence, as has been the case with every great wisdom tradition in the world. Fortunately, in the same way these traditions have been used to justify violence, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism have also inspired a revolutionary kind of love that we can choose as well.
Valarie invites us to step into this rich part of her tradition with four questions regarding becoming a warrior-sage. She says,
"First, what is your sword, your kirpan? What can you use to fight on behalf of others—your pen, your voice, your art, your pocketbook, your presence? Begin where you are, your home or campus or community, on the front lines or behind the scenes.
Second, what is your shield, your dhal? What can you use to protect yourself and others when the fight is dangerous—your camera, legal counsel, a group of allies, public witness? Your safety matters.
Third, what is your instrument, your dilruba? In Sikh legend, our ancestors designed the dilruba, a string instrument small enough for soldiers to carry on their backs into the battlefield, so that they could lift their spirits in music, song, and poetry in the mornings before they faced the fire. I have a painting of the woman warrior Mai Bhago with a sword and shield in her hands, and a dilruba on her back. So, I started learning how to play the actual instrument! I still can only play a scale, but the music helps me breathe. The sound of the strings reverberates inside me and centers my mind. Your dilruba can be what centers you—singing, dancing, drumming, walking, yoga, kirtan, prayer, meditation.
Finally, who is your sacred community, your sangat? You just need three kinds of people. Someone… who sees the best in you. Someone… who is willing to fight by your side. And someone… who can fight for you when you need help. Bring them together and you’ve created a pocket of revolutionary love.”
Spend some time pondering what each of these may be for you and begin to engage them in your life.
In Goodness, Truth, Beauty, and Love,
Here most of the Readings from this week's pauses:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” — Philippians 4:8
“Wisdom is a living stream, not an icon preserved in a museum. Only when we find the spring of wisdom in our own life can it flow to future generations.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
The Year as a House: A Blessing Think of the year as a house: door flung wide in welcome, threshold swept and waiting, a graced spaciousness opening and offering itself to you. Let it be blessed in every room. Let it be hallowed in every corner. Let every nook be a refuge and every object set to holy use. Let it be here that safety will rest. Let it be here that health will make its home. Let it be here that peace will show its face. Let it be here t hat love will find its way. Here let the weary come let the aching come let the lost come let the sorrowing come. Here let them find their rest and let them find their soothing and let them find their place and let them find their delight. And may it be in this house of a year that the seasons will spin in beauty, and may it be in these turning days that time will spiral with joy. And may it be that its rooms will fill with ordinary grace and light spill from every window to welcome the stranger home. —Jan Richardson