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The Wisdom Within

Order, Disorder, Reorder: Part Three

The Wisdom Within
Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Author Valarie Kaur is a Sikh activist and civil rights lawyer who writes about social change through the metaphor of childbirth—both acts of “revolutionary love.” In her words I find a powerful description of contemplation and action, of how we endure the pain of Disorder until we find the courage and grace to enter Reorder. We listen and act, rest and respond, until our work is informed by deeper wisdom.

The final stage of birthing labor is the most dangerous stage, and the most painful. . . . The medical term is “transition.” Transition feels like dying but it is the stage that precedes the birth of new life. After my labor, I began to think about transition as a metaphor for the most difficult fiery moments in our lives. In all our various creative labors—making a living, raising a family, building a nation—there are moments that are so painful, we want to give up. But inside searing pain and encroaching numbness, we might also find the depths of our courage, hear our deepest wisdom, and transition to the other side. . . .

“We can learn to mother ourselves!” Audre Lorde [1934–1992] once declared. [1] So I decided to practice listening to the Wise Woman in me. I got a simple blank journal, carried it with me, and wrote in it every day . . . and simply let her speak. . . . Listening to her voice, literally every few hours, is how I began to practice loving myself. Here’s what I discovered about Wise Woman: Her voice is quiet. . . . I have to get really quiet in order to hear her. How do I know when I am hearing her voice? She is tender and truthful. She is not afraid of anything or anyone. She does not give me all the answers, but she does know what I need to do in this moment—to wonder, grieve, fight, rage, listen, reimagine, breathe, or push. She helps me show up to the labor as my best self.

I believe that deep wisdom resides within each of us. Some call this voice by different sacred names—Spirit, God, Jesus, Allah, Om, Buddha-nature, Waheguru. Others think of this voice as the intuition one hears when in a calm state of mind. . . . Whatever name we choose, listening to our deepest wisdom requires disciplined practice. The loudest voices in the world right now are ones running on the energy of fear, criticism, and cruelty. The voices we spend the most time listening to, in the world and inside our own minds, shape the way we see, how we feel, and what we do. When I spend time listening to people who are speaking from their deepest wisdom, I can feel understanding, inspiration, and energy nourish the root of my own wisdom. But I must not lose myself at the feet of others. My most vigilant spiritual practice is finding the seconds of solitude to get quiet enough to hear the Wise Woman in me.

References:
[1] Audre Lorde, “Eye to Eye: Black Women, Hatred, and Anger,” Sister Outsider (The Crossing Press: 1984), 173.

Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (One World: 2020), 278–279, 280–281.

Image credit: Garden of Wish Fulfilment (detail), Arshile Gorki, 1944, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon Portugal.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Only the whole self is ever ready for the whole God, so Reorder always involves moving beyond the dualistic mind toward a more spacious, contemplative knowing. —Richard Rohr
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