We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.

This proverb from the Dakota people (a Native American tribe) has been haunting me for weeks now. It won’t let go of me. I keep reflecting on these words for my own life – the tracks I have left behind me as well as the new tracks I will create in the coming year – and also for my country and for the world. I’m deeply troubled by the shift in leadership direction in the United States, as well as the parallel shifts that are happening in other countries. I’m concerned about what new tracks we will soon create. So this Dakota proverb feels especially relevant as we prepare to cross from 2016 into 2017.

I’ve just returned home from my last working trip of the year. After two and a half months of being in full-on “presenter” mode, I can feel my whole system quickly slowing down into “reflection” mode. I’m being pulled deeper and deeper into the recesses of my heart and to the many complex feelings and emotions within me over what is happening in my own country and in the world. I can sense the waves of societal fear, uncertainty, vulnerability, and confusion that are present all around me. You may be experiencing some of these feelings as well.

I realize that there are many perspectives on what is happening. Not everyone agrees on what progress looks like. I’m doing my best to understand the perspectives of those who think and feel differently than I do.

I’m also aware of the “pendulum” nature of societal change. The pendulum keeps moving. It can’t stay for too long in one place. It will seek balance. Therefore, at some point, the pendulum will always swing back in the other direction.

However, even with that awareness, the direction of the swing right now doesn’t feel good. I can’t help but wonder how far the pendulum might swing in this new direction. Is what is happening now just a balance correction – helping us find our way back to center? Or, of greater concern, will the swing take us so far to the right that the center also moves significantly towards a loss of human rights and freedoms, and a world that works only for a select few?

Yet as I have the chance to slow down now and sit for longer periods of time in the deep stillness, I’m surprised by what is happening.

I expected to come face-to-face with fear, hurt, anger, and vulnerability. Instead, I’m becoming even more aware of the power of the heart. Rising up inside of me is a love more fierce than I have ever known before. And in the same way that the words of the Dakota proverb won’t let go of me, neither will this fierce love.

I say “fierce” love because it feels warrior-like. It’s spiritual warrior energy. The spiritual warrior is one who stands up for who she or he is, for the truths in his or her heart, and for the care of the whole, no matter what. The spiritual warrior’s weapons are not guns or swords; they are awareness, perception, focus, concentration, intention, clarity, and aligned action.

This fierce love recalls words of Dr. Martin Luther King – words that have been my north star for many years:

Power, properly understood, is nothing but the ability to achieve purpose…There is nothing wrong with power if power is used correctly…One of the great problems of history is that the concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites – polar opposites – so that love is identified with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love…What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic.

We are living in tumultuous times. How we choose to respond going forward is critical. Will we view power and love as polar opposites, equating power with strength and control, and love with weakness and sentimentality? Or will we hold a big vision fueled by a ferocious heart and commit to creating a world that works for all?

We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.

Hope requires vision – vision of something more or something better than the situation we are in right now. And it requires confidence that the vision can actually become reality. We have to believe in the vision, and we have to believe in ourselves.

If we are going to have hope during these tumultuous times, we must have vision. Vision gives us direction. A vision doesn’t have to be full of details. It can be as simple as a vision of a world where people respect one another and listen to one another. Or a world where all people have what they need for safety, security, health, and well being. For me, it’s a world that works for everyone.

Whatever your vision is, you don’t have to know how you are going to manifest it. Your job is to be clear about the role you are being asked to play in order to bring that vision to reality, and then to get busy doing your part. The rest will follow. You’ll learn how as you go.

During these last couple of weeks of 2016, my intention is to get clear about the role I am being asked to play in 2017 within the context of all that is happening now. I then commit to embracing that role to the best of my abilities as I enter the New Year, and to grow and evolve with that role as the year goes on. I also commit to living and leading from fierce love – to embodying the partnership of power and love – to living and leading as a spiritual warrior.

How about you? The future is up to us – every one of us. What is your vision? What is your intention and commitment for 2017?

 

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