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Center for Action and Contemplation
Loving a Suffering Planet
Loving a Suffering Planet

A Heart-Centered Revolution

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?
—Dorothy Day, Loaves and Fishes 

Authors LaUra Schmidt and Aimee Lewis Reau consider the impact of a heart-centered revolution made possible through our connection to one another:  

We can experience joy, love, and beauty on this planet, even as it changes around us. To do this, we have to build personal and collective resilience—an ability to find equanimity in unpredictable times and as the suffering around us increases. We do this not by avoiding the Long Dark but by facing it, moving with it…. 

Connection has the power to ground us when the world is chaotic. Connection gives our lives meaning and offers joy, even in the dark [of the unknown]. We can then invest ourselves into meaningful action—the kind that promotes relationship and regeneration. Meaningful action can be a salve for painful feelings like ecoanxiety, ecodistress, climate grief, and overwhelm because meaningful action isn’t dependent on outcomes…. We do [this work] because it’s what needs to be done. It’s generative work, and it fills us with purpose.  

It also lays the groundwork for a heart-centered revolution. In this revolution, we center relationships, connectedness, and love in times of suffering and disconnection. We open to our interconnectedness with all beings and make decisions based on compassion and insight instead of egocentric motivations. The heart-centered revolution is brought about by our inner equanimity and our love for each other, ourselves, and our planet as a whole. Instead of thoughtless and selfish actions, we reinvest ourselves with an understanding of the consequences to the larger world…. 

The calling of the heart-centered revolution is to find opportunities to cultivate a truly just and life-centered world, even if we never see it come into existence. [1]  

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis writes of the solidarity necessary to transform our culture and our world: 

In order to live a moral life, a good life, an ubuntu life, we must commit to a life of love that means seeing all the things. See your neighbor suffering and do something about it.… 

Friend, you are the only one standing where you stand, seeing what you see, with your vantage point, your story. You are right there for a reason: to have, as my dear friend Ruby Sales says, “hindsight, insight, and foresight.” I want us to learn to see, with our eyes wide open, how best to be healers and transformers. I want us to really see, to fully awaken to the hot-mess times we are in and to the incredible power we have to love ourselves into wellness…. 

I want us open to revelation, not afraid of it, and open to the ways that it will provoke us to believe assiduously in how lovable we each are, and in the love between us and among us because, actually, believing is seeing. [2]  

[1] LaUra Schmidt with Aimee Lewis Reau and Chelsie Rivera, How to Live in a Chaotic Climate: Ten Steps to Reconnect with Ourselves, Our Communities, and Our Planet (Boulder, CO: Shambhala, 2023), 11, 12. 

[2] Jacqui Lewis, “Apocalypse Now: Love, Believing, and Seeing,” Oneing 10, no. 1, Unveiled (Spring 2022): 44–45. Available in print and PDF download

Image Credit and inspiration: Renzo D’souza, death and new life (detail), India, 2020, photo, Unsplash. Click here to enlarge image. How can we care for the tender seedlings on the parched soil of our beloved earth? 

Story from Our Community:  

Thank you for this year’s theme of Radical Resilience. I’m realizing that resilience can sometimes be knowing when to step back. I recently took on a leadership role and it is proving too much for me. For months, this experience has been very challenging and my first reaction is to feel shame and near constant anxiety. Rather than beat myself up and think I’m weak, I am beginning to see the underlying lessons about life and myself. Stepping away can be acknowledging the reality of the situation—and the reality is that I don’t have the answers. CAC’s Daily Meditations have been a welcome, fresh perspective for a jaded former Catholic like me. —Robert C. 

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