Why the movement needs mystics

I've been thinking a lot lately about where I fit into the Occupy movement - what kind of role I should play. Unlike some of my housemates, who have gotten arrested, and have been presences at Oscar Grant/Frank Ogawa Plaza, I've been pretty much on the sidelines. I helped start Occupy Technology (which is sort of moribund at the moment.) I've been to a few of the marches and actions, but otherwise not really involved.

For a long time now (since 2003) protest in its traditional form hasn't felt like the right thing for me, even though I had spent all of my adult life as an activist in a number of causes, including anti-nuclear, environmental, pro-choice, health issues, anti-death penalty, and others. In 2003, when the Iraq war started, I joined a group of folks who promised to fast for one day a week until the war ended. Of course even then, we didn't think the war would go on for 8 years! My personal fast ended late in 2004, when it seemed then that the war would go on for a very long time.

In general, I feel great resonance with the Occupy movement, particularly the strains of the movement (which are not especially mainstream, but they are definitely present and known) that talk about the need for the creation of a new society based on love, compassion, equality, and meaning. And getting from point A (where we are now) to point B (that new society) seems completely unrealistic, perhaps even impossible.

I was reminded in a conversation I had this afternoon with a friend (who I must give the credit for the title of this blog post) about the importance of what I'm calling now "holding the door open to hope." Many people would use different language for it. The basic idea is that although we can't necessarily see how to get from point A to point B, we need to remember that there is available to us a vast source of possibility - the possibility to live into the best of what it means to be human. Some people might language this vast source of possibility as God. Others might language it quite differently. But in the end, it's the same.

We can see evidence everywhere of how messed up things have gotten. And it is so easy to get weighted down by the despair and hopelessness of the world. I fall into that all the time (just ask my housemates.) We can see how many people are suffering, and how the planet is suffering, and how the systems in place are failing us at every turn. We can see how divided this country is, and the world is, and not see how it would ever be possible for it to be different.

But there is, along side it, evidence of how things could look, and be different. We miss these, because the media doesn't cover this, and for many of us, our brains are more wired to dwell on the negative than on the positive. People are already creating the alternatives, right now.

So maybe that's my role. Holding the door open to hope. Reminding myself (especially) and others, of Divine possibilities.

Oh, and food. I'll cook for the revolution. :-)


Love this, Michelle! The functions of the mystic, the contemplative, the prayer warrior--they are all so important behind the scenes. It's not glamorous, but it matters a lot.

And I *have* been thinking about how your cooking sustains me in my ability to be down at the plaza so much. Thank you!

Thanks Michelle. I've been wondering myself what to do and where I fit. Not everyone is born to be on the front lines, and there is so much that is needed behind the scenes. You've reminded me that there is a place for some to support and love and 'hold the door open to hope' and help give strength to those who feel called to more direct action. And this current transformation needs us all. Everyone who feels called in some way to do their part. We are all needed. We are all a part of the greater whole that is emerging now. Blessings to all.

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