Last weekend saw me in Canada teaching a group of deeply dedicated people. We were working on patterns of earth, of silence, and stability. We also explored, of course, the ways in which we destabilize ourselves, in which we speed up inside, in which we fall prey to worry, to living in the future or the past, to clinging to stories that may not serve us, and in fact, may not even really be ours.
In the course of this, we looked at money and our relationship to it. As part of our exploration, we ended up passing around a brass bowl while singing, "Life is flowing, I am receiving, life is flowing, I can give! May the gifts of the earth pass from hand to hand, may the gifts of the earth be a blessing for all!" Every person put money in. We could also take money out. Money passed from hand to hand, was tossed in the air, was given back to the bowl or waved about or put into pockets. It was joyous, though the exercise had begun with a bit of tension. We sang and sang and danced with each other. We opened to possibility. At the end, though some of us had taken money out of the bowl if we felt the need or wish, the bowl was filled to the brim with money to be sent to Haiti. The money we raised together - literally and figuratively, for the bowl was raised over and over to the sky - will be matched by the Canadian government before being sent on its way.
This was a collective act, a collective healing, a collective gift, yet it took each of us to bring our own relationship with money to the table. We all had examined our guilt, our frustration, our sense of scarcity or wealth and brought that to the task of singing and dancing with these symbols of cultural exchange. This process changed something in all of us as individuals, and therefore, as a collective, we were able to have enough sense of possibility in our relationship with money to have an overflowing bowl filled for people who's need in this moment was greater than our own.
That was magic. We had begun a change in our consciousness and manifested the blessing of that shift within the material plane. The moral of the story for me is this:
Our personal work does not have to get in the way of our collective work around social justice, caring for the environment, or caring for each other. Our collective work does not have to preclude sitting with ourselves, centering, examining thought and emotion, and changing our own lives. The more we realize that the two are linked, the stronger and more supple we become as individuals and as the collective. We can create the change we want to see in the world (to paraphrase Gandhi).
It starts right here, right now. It opens every time we breathe and we remember. We are whole. Our sense of separateness is just a difficult convenience. Come back.