“I hear voices, scary voices. I see scary images and hear scary stories: Children killing other children, children taking their own lives. I can’t even watch the news. My heart is pounding so loudly. Dear God, what have we done? More important, what can we do? Can we turn this around?”
I’m standing before a semicircle of folks sitting in back-jacks on the floor in the main room of the Friends Meeting House in Santa Monica. Behind me are beautiful black and white images representing Body, Soul and Spirit. Propped beside me on the floor is a simple line sketch of a slender woman bending at the waist, hair falling forward, hands gently reaching down to one red flower. Underneath her are the words, “Tending to the Small.”
I continue: “Inside my heart I carry a beautiful vision. People care for themselves and about each other and the planet. There is peace, love and harmony among all my relations. I’ve carried this vision since childhood. It came with a song: I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…” In the outside world, I see so much pain and struggle. How can I bring my inner vision to the outside? I don’t want to serve the fear. I want to serve Soul, Spirit. I want to see You everywhere, in all things. Show me how.”
I sit down, pick up a small red pillow in the shape of a heart and hold it to my chest.
“When my heart is open, I feel You with me,” I say, and then sing: “What can help my heart stay open… ? What can help my heart stay open… ?”
“When the voices get too loud, my heart closes, sometimes to the point where I feel nonfunctional, and I can only do simple mundane tasks: put away dishes, brush Shiloh, fold laundry.”
I place the heart in a basket on the floor, then remove a shawl from my shoulders, fold it gently and place it, too, in the basket.
“As I tend to these small things, my heart opens. I want everything I hold, everything I fold to feel how much love I have in my heart.”
I sing another chant, then pick up a small globe.
“The Earth is in trouble. I cannot save Her. That would be a great thing, and, as Mother Teresa said, ‘We can do no great things, only small things with great love.’ I can do small things with great love. What if we all did small things with great love? What if, by doing so, Spirit were free to do great things?”
I stand and leave the room, singing another chant. It’s a simple Soul Theater performance piece, a bit longer than I am quoting, lines interspersed with song, some provided by Bea Ma, chants from her Soulful Relating in Psychotherapy course, for which I’ve composed my own melodies.
Earlier in the day, I rehearsed at a local park, placing simple objects on the grass: my keys, shawl, jacket. Shiloh wandered around a bit, dragging his leash. A few people looked over as I spoke and sang to myself, developing the melodies and memorizing the sequence. Each time I repeated the first lines, I cried.
This is my third Soul Theater event, each offered by Doris Wolz Cohen, MFT, whom I know as Bea Ma and whom I met at her birthday Soul Theater celebration a few years ago, to which I’d been invited by a mutual friend.
In each event, Bea includes artists in various modalities: some solo movement, some facilitated meditations, all beautiful heartfelt communications of soulful relating. At the last one, Ruth Gould Goodman led a guided meditation then invited us to offer a spontaneous creative expression of what we’d experienced. When I came forward, I began straightening out the ground cloth, undoing the wrinkles, slowly placing items in order. I was stalling for time. Bea saw my attention to detail, designed a Soul Theater piece around tending to small things, and invited me to perform the opening.
Who’s to say what is “big” and what is “small”? In Christianity, Jesus speaks of becoming small to enter the kingdom, and that the amount of faith needed is the size of a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds. In one translation of the Tao te Ching, Lao Tzu says, “Great acts are made up of small deeds.”
My favorite teaching is from Judaism, called “tzim tzum,” the idea that there are sparks of the Divine hidden or trapped in matter. By tending to small things with great care, we release Divinity into the world. This feels real. As I write it, I smile.
During the break I walk out onto the patio. In the center of each table is a small glass jar of pink, rose and lavender flowers. The buffet table is an altar with handmade dishes and another vase of tulips and roses. Every detail has been attended to. I feel deeply moved by the work and let Bea know I am inspired to bring it to children, to communities.
After the second half, including a guided meditation led by Susan Ackerman Joseph, where we bring attention to our inner broken pieces, we form the closing circle. We’ve spent three hours together nurturing small things. A word comes to mind and I share it: “micro-activism.” Each time I disengage from the external idea of what matters, each time I decide that some small act is important, and that how I do it makes more of a difference than the “big” or hoped-for result, I am declaring that I matter, that what I do matters. This builds faith that I can create a world I want to live in, that I am doing so with each action. This is a revolution I can lead. This is a revolution we can all lead.
Sage Knight is a local ghostwriter and Literary Midwife. She and her Golden Retriever, Shiloh, live at Top O’ Topanga and do many small things with great love. For more information, contact us at www.SageKnight.com.