The United States of America faces a tragic plague of police violence against Black people at increasing levels. The advent of cell phone video, and police body cams and dash cams, bring the tragedy closer to us.
We have heard recently from three Black women mayors addressing this issue: Lori Lightfoot of Chicago, Kim Janey of Boston, and Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta. They have children or grandchildren of their own to think of. After the police shooting of a 13-year-old Latino boy, Lori Lightfoot shared her concern for her own child, 13 years old. And you can feel their hearts breaking for the people of their cities.
I’ll leave it to another time and place to address the politics of this. I am speaking of the spiritual origin of what manifests in our culture. I am addressing the necessity of creating a “safe harbor of Love,” as Karen Pritchard named it. Where there is a safe harbor of Love for the heart, other levels of the human experience are kept secure. Most of us would readily admit that there is likely to be some kind of violence externally where there is violence in the heart. When we create safety for the gathering together of the waters of the heart, that creates safety for life. How can there be safety for life if there is not safety of the heart?
While you are, most likely, not the mayor of a city, you are the mayor for your creative field, whatever that may be, and so am I. How will we create a safe harbor of Love for the heart for our own creative field? For our little city and its population?
Those of us who have raised families are often particularly aware of such things. We cannot be with our children as they go to school or do all the other things they do. And of course, one day, they have to fly the coop and enter the larger world. So, past a certain point we cannot follow around after them to create physical safety. But we can create safety for their heart. We ourselves can be a safe harbor for their soul. We can create a heart space where they know that they are loved, where the love in their heart can live and be surrounded by us.
I am highly confident that you have had deep experiences of the coming together of the waters of the heart, a time when you shared a profound heart space with another person, or a group of people. And perhaps you have had the experience of deliberately creating a context where that could happen.
A gathering together of the waters of the heart is a life-giving experience. The Creation story in Genesis is a mystical text describing these things. Here’s what it says:
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
Is this not an allegory for what happens in our human experience? Where there is a gathering together of the waters, human culture can thrive.
One of the most profound experiences I have had of this was as a second-grade teacher in California. Second graders are typically seven- and eight-year-olds. They are moving from early childhood to the cusp of middle childhood. It can be a time of rapid transformation and growth. They have a new strength coming on, so new energies are at work in their experience. It is an honor to be a witness to this miracle.
I was a new teacher, and I had thirty-six students. It was mostly just me, with a teacher assistant for three mornings a week. I taught these young people all their subjects for six hours a day, with a break for lunch. I remember facing all that as a new teacher and thinking, This is either going to go really well or really badly!
I had a theory that I went by: A rising tide lifts all boats. I thought that if I could create positive energy in the class as a whole—if the waters of their collective consciousness could come together and rise to a creative place—then all of them would benefit.
I did not know anything else to do to create that but to be a constant presence of the vibration of Love. I couldn’t imagine how it could work without bringing a carrier wave of Love, letting it reverberate through me with them. So I did just that and created a virtual greenhouse where their little hearts could be surrounded.
I can report that there was an amazing coming together. They learned the academic subjects like crazy. So they learned to speak, read, and write. More than that, they learned how to be with each other, and they had their zest for life confirmed. They so loved being there that, over the weekend, they couldn’t wait for Monday to come around!
I remember watching them on the last day of school, knowing that they had been catapulted into the rest of their life from the experience they had. They were full of self-confidence, joy, and zeal. It was a big learning for me. It proved out principles that I knew at a theoretical level.
For me, this was a profound experience of beloved community. And it was a lesson on how we create it. As the mystical formula in Genesis says, the Spirit of God moves on the face of the waters, the Spirit of God being Love. Somebody brings Love to the waters of consciousness and lets it reverberate. We have to be up for that in whatever context we find ourselves—the carrier wave of Love held steady through thick and thin, no matter what. And then there is Light. The field lights up, and you can see. There is a pattern that emerges. There is an atmosphere that appears in the field—new levels of energy and awareness. And in that atmosphere, there begins to be a gathering together of the waters of the heart.
In thinking about this, I looked it up in the volumes of The Third Sacred School to see what Martin Cecil had to say about it. He was making the point that we, of ourselves, as human beings, have no ability to bring a gathering together of the waters.
That is what is so difficult about the issue of police violence committed against Black people in America. There is a profound experience of separation at a heart level that allows it to happen. And so the wiser voices of our culture call upon a power larger than us to bring us together.
The truth is that we cannot even gather together our own waters all by ourselves, never mind everybody else’s! We have no magic potion that does that. I suppose, through some kind of zeal or charisma, we might be able to entrance some people for some period of time. But that is not a true gathering together of the waters. It is not a true coming together in beloved community. We do not have the ability to do that in human strength alone. But here is what we do have the ability to do: we have the ability to surrender to a Love that is higher than we are, to open our heart, open our being, open our consciousness, open our awareness to something higher than we are, that does not originate in our humanity.
In reading Martin’s words, I thought, That was a little strong! And what was the strong part? That the answer to the most profound questions of humankind lies beyond what we are capable of as mere human beings. It lies beyond our human culture, although the seed of the answer has been planted there.
What rises in my heart is simply yes, it is beyond our human culture as we have known it. But surely there are some clues; surely there are starting points for us as human beings. Surely, we are not left without direction as to where the answer comes from and an ability to open to it. We can invoke it in ourselves and then express and embody it for our world. We can be the vibration of it in living color in all the fields in which we serve. Surely, we have that ability—not, as I say, as a mere human being, not out of the culture in which we have lived but out of that great potential that lies within us.
The reality is that until we have done that, we do not get to find out that the answer, in the end, is who we are. In our opening to the answer, it seems to be something outside ourselves, above ourselves. So there has to be a great surrendering to what appears to be something more than what we have been, to that great power of Universal Love, to that great potential of Love. When we have failed to love as a human being, there is the Love that never faileth, that is bigger than we are. And so we open to that.
When we open to it consistently, day by day, moment by moment, when we bring that to the people around us without fail—because we have surrendered to it and allowed it to express through us—at some point our humanity as we knew it not only surrenders but passes away. Who we have thought ourselves to be evaporates. And we realize that we are, in truth, that great reality of Love that we have surrendered to. And we are that Being from whom that great Love originates, that Being who simply loves with a Love hardly comprehensible in human culture as it is.
Our Love transcends all things. Our Love surrounds and offers safe harbor, and it penetrates the human heart.
Here is my prayer.
May the love that is bigger than I am as a human being enter the waters of my consciousness, move on the face of them, and penetrate the deep of me, now, in this moment, and in all the moments to come. Let that Great Spirit reverberate through my heart and through my being. May every person I touch in any way feel that reverberation of Love. May they feel the safe harbor of Love surrounding them. May they feel the resonance of Love coming into them. May they know the Light that comes in consciousness when Love resonates on the face of the waters and enters the deep. May they see in a new way. May they know themselves in a new way. May they know the world in a new way and see with eyes shining with Light, no longer filled with judgment.
May our own personal waters be gathered together unto one place under the heaven of Spirit. May we feel the presence of the Great Mother holding our heart. May we feel the resonating Love of the Great Father at all times, loving us. May our collective waters come together under a shared heaven. May we know one Spirit, one God, one Love, one Light, the same Light for all people, the same Love for all people, surrounding all of us, seeing us all—one Light from that one Love that knows all of us for who we are. Under that one Love and that one Light, may our waters be gathered together. May we know one heart as we give our hearts to one another and receive each other’s hearts.
In a great breathing in, I receive your heart, and in this great breath out, I give you mine. And we feel our collective heartbeat, the heartbeat of the Great Mother, who loves with a Love supreme. In our collective heartbeat, may we feel and know the heartbeat of the Great Father, the great Lord of Love, who loves with a Love supreme.
And so let there be life—life in this body, this individual physical body, in each physical body, and in this collective body of spiritually awake and connected people around the globe. Let there be life and life more abundantly. Let the grass grow, let the winds blow, let there be life.