Saturday, May 2, 2020

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, May 2, 2020 - Make an Earthquake of Your Presence

Make an earthquake of your presence. It's a phrase the Devil once shared with the Old Testament character Jōb. Not the mythological devil, nor the literary Jōb. Just me and my buddy Kevin. I was in a rock musical in Toronto back in the mid-90’s playing the role of Jōb in a show called Jōb and the Snake. Kevin played the Snake.

He told me that he believed it was a Quaker aphorism. But I couldn’t find it anywhere. So it’s a phrase not of my own making, perhaps, but it is an important philosophy I hold closely. I will quote it as “author and origin unknown” for the time being.

Think of it for a moment, though. Make an earthquake of your presence.

It makes me think of walking into a room and emitting a shockwave of good energy; physically imperceptible, but deeply healing and inspirational on the cellular level. I picture choosing brighter colors, taking deeper breaths, climbing higher hills, making bigger leaps of faith.

Make an earthquake of your presence.

Hugging more warmly, loving more deeply, singing more loudly, laughing... more. Having joy by causing it. Knowing abundance by sharing it. Understanding the way by living it.

Make an earthquake of your presence.

I think the idea makes an excellent mission statement. A job description. But now you have to consider whether or not you, as an individual, are possessing any power to share in the first place. Are you?

Think of it this way: Do your prayers matter? I would say they definitely do. Even if you don’t believe in the notion of a higher power, verbalizing your desires is part of the process of accomplishing them. Verbalizing positivity is like ringing a gong. The vibrations are felt first by the gong, and then by all within range of it.

Even if you think you are utterly powerless, I want you to pretend like you’re not. Fake it till you make it. I want you to have an idea in mind that you have a super power of positivity which is bigger than your own ability to actually be positive on a daily basis.  

Sometimes superheroes falter. In practically every story they second-guess themselves at least once. Even Jesus wondered at times if he was on the right path. The Buddha, too. They all have a moment of doubt, of questioning. They wonder if they are up to the task which faces them. Typically, there is a happy ending in the superhero stories we share most. Because that’s what we should believe about ourselves. That our power is always there, even when we doubt it.

We are meant to believe, at least as evidenced by the stories we constantly tell ourselves, that we are in possession of something special. Something which animates us in ways that appear to be different from other animals on the planet, even if we all do possess consciousness of one form or another.

Some force, or attribute, or secret ingredient distinctly separates us from other forms of life on earth. We are set apart, not above or below other forms of life, but noticeably distinct. Is this a power we can only use for harm, or to subjugate other life? Of course not. Just because some people use their specialness for greed does not mean that it can’t, or isn’t, being used for good. Look for it.

Acknowledge your divine spark, whatever you choose to believe of it. There is a specialness about us which we don’t have to pretend doesn’t exist. And if that specialness is bigger than we have imagined, if it’s more effective and resonant than we have been led to believe, then it might stand to reason our lives would be improved by tapping into it.


Now there’s the quandary. How do we do it? We don’t even know where the ignition to this car is. I’m sure many of us would gladly turn the key if only we knew where it was.

When trying to tackle a spiritual concern of this kind, look for the level at which no argument can be made. For instance, in Unitarian Universalism nearly all of us agree that we are connected in some way, that we are all one.

After that point, everybody has their own opinion about what “being one” generally means. Through the idea that we are all connected in some way, however, and that we must rely upon one another in order to thrive (which generally means not pooping where you eat, so to speak, and perhaps even growing a garden rather than building a wall), we generally perceive that doing things to enhance our oneness, to get closer to one another, and lift each other up, is probably a better way of using our time and talents.

So where do we all agree on the idea that we have power? It’s a good question. That’s the level at which we should contemplate this issue. We’re looking here for the point at which we all agree about our human specialness before diverging into our own opinions about the implications of it.

I think we might be able to agree that our thoughts matter. Just that. Just consider whether or not you agree with that one little statement that our thoughts matter. Perhaps, we can even agree to consider that positive thoughts tend to create more positive environments around us, even if only by increment. Let that thought sink in.

Now, wonder what the implications of that thought might be. If thinking positively can—even slightly—alter our experience, what might the cascade effect of that ongoing choice be over time?

I want you to design an imaginary superhero costume for yourself. I want you to stand in your imagination wearing it, fists on your hips, arms akimbo, head up, feet planted. A power pose of strength. Picture a low, thrumming sound emanating from your body in waves radiating outwardly. Picture the waves being absorbed by people, animals, surfaces and walls, trees, mountains. Do these things feel your presence? Do they hear your resonance? Might the tree know that you love it?

I actually hugged a tree at the beginning of this outbreak for comfort. I only felt silly for a moment, until a wave of peace overtook me. Did I receive peace from the tree? Did it receive peace from me? All I know for certain is that I felt better. I can only hope the tree felt it too.

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