Updated: Oct 12, 2021
In working to create Spirit Rising and, particularly, this creative writing space, I’ve found myself muddling through a quagmire of questions, uncertainties, and self-doubts across these prevailing months. Altogether, these quandaries have left me with a rather distinct impression: I fundamentally do not understand the nature of blog spaces or the social expectations surrounding them. An endless array of self-help guides, instructional videos, and professional bloggers profess a multitude of “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to blog writing. From word count standards to guidance on style and voice, a great many individuals speak to—and perhaps unintentionally reinforce—the idea that blogs are enshrined with a particular set of conventions, one that we would be wise to uphold.
Much to the dismay (I’m sure) of the professional blogging world, this space is likely to function quite differently. Turning away from the abundance of external authorities, and in becoming still enough—and patient enough—to listen to the vocational calling fueling the construction of Spirit Rising, the heart and soul of this creative writing arena becomes evident: its raison d'être, or purpose for existence, is centered on radiating and awakening a reverence for life and, with it, inspiring a greater collective effort to support its preservation. At the risk of sounding quixotic, I would muse that no matter how impractical or lofty such an endeavor seems, it represents a moral and ethical imperative of our times.
Despite this clarity surrounding the orientation of this space, discovering its central point of rotation has involved a bit of a journey. I’m not sure, dear reader, how you approach being in foreign terrains, like the one I have of late been trekking through. But I have come to understand that the unknown expanses of life we knowingly or unknowingly stumble into often invite a period of self-reflection, assessment, discovery, and (re)alignment. After all, when immersed in unknown terrain, are we not afforded the fertile experience of cultivating a new map, one suitable for navigating the unique complexities and specificities of the novel environment we’re immersed within?
Once reliant upon physical instruments to chart unexplored territories, we’ve replaced the sextant and compass of eras past with the more nebulous process of turning inward for directional support. In this contemporary milieu, our deepest values, intentions, sources of meaning and joy, aspirations, dreams, and life experiences lend their navigational support, helping us find our way by continuously re-calibrating our own True North.
Leaning into this process of “map-making,” of generating navigational tools in the service of these new undertakings, I’ve realized such an endeavor can offer invaluable gifts. Developing a reliance on turning inward can afford a greater intimacy with self, an intimacy that allows for the recognition of strengths, latent capacities and undiscovered potentialities, and that can offer a clarifying re-acquaintance with the deepest underpinnings of what creates personal meaning and purpose in our lives. And no doubt, the challenges involved in our map-making endeavoring can indeed call forth courage, wisdom, and vision—an exercise, if you will, of these attributes—while offering an entreaty to confront personal fears, self-doubts and unhealed wounds.
In developing a new map appropriate to this novel terrain, I have become more familiar with certain hindrances that have inhibited life-forwarding movement. Despite experiencing a long-established calling to write and cultivate writing as both discipline and instrument, I have more clearly discerned how the internal operations of self-doubt can gnaw at both courage and confidence alike, undermining the spirit of inspiration and leaving in its stead a deadening stagnation. And life, as I have come to understand, doesn’t thrive in stagnant conditions.
As I was discovering, the effects of this pernicious form of self-doubt (the chronic, toxic variant that lingers in masked and subterranean ways) can instill illusory perceptions of insignificance and reinforce internal narratives of diminutive self-worth. And when left unabated, toxic self-doubt can even negate one’s sense of voice, contribution, and sovereign claim to the right of living visibly, free from real or perceived fear of harm. This totalizing hindrance—afflicting body, mind, heart, and spirit—threatens our comprehension of the very nobility of our existence...
Suffice it to say, this is not a hindrance to take lightly.
Voices and messages that make us feel small and insignificant—whether stemming from an external source or from deep within internalized beliefs and narratives—do not stir us towards a fuller expression of our humanity: they restrain and confine, an entrapping of fear that clips the wings of the soul and renders our perception dislocated from the true majesty and wholeness of our being.
But with great patience and care, when such limiting thoughts and emotions—unwitting transgressions reiterated by the mind—are repeatedly and consistently held up to the heart, they are invariably unable to endure. Intrinsically invalid, they eventually dissipate like morning fog cast away by the penetrating and steadfast gaze of sunlight. The heart always sees clearly.
As vanishing artistry and mode of being, for the heart to become re-centered as the primary language and currency of life, it will require intentional nourishment—sustenance that can only be garnered through a deep, slow time and from the persistence of practices that allow for alternative ways of being… This requires a slowing down… a re-acquaintance with a vertical engagement in life rather than merely experiencing it horizontally, superficially, fleetingly… and, by necessity, must involve a great turning: a turning away from the dominant social ethos of scarcity, materiality, and competition towards an ethos of love and mutually shared abundance…
Returning full circle, it is towards these ends that this space exists: to provide a space for soulful reflection, creativity and vision to flourish; to offer an entreaty to awaken to this one precious life; and, to amplify our collective efforts to create a shared future based on a reverence for the sanctity of all life and the material foundations that sustain it…
This isn’t easy work. This is a great soul work (in the words of one of my spiritual mentors), a work that involves turning inward, investigating that which hardens our hearts, and compassionately—and courageously—challenging those forces and hindrances that keep us from cultivating the inability to tolerate one another’s suffering.
So, in these final words, let me offer some clarification about what can you expect from this space. Joining creative prose and embodied writing with scholarly excavation, lived experience, and spiritual inspirations, this space remains devoted to the cultivation of the heart. This is a dedication to nurturing visions of future possible worlds cast in the shadow of a fuller expression of our humanity.
You can expect the following from this space, dear journeyer…
1. This space is a messy space. Like creativity, like love, like life… like the process of becoming intimate with the ground as we stumble, fall and learn to find our way back up. This space invites a setting down of perfectionism to engage the world, and one another, from the unique brilliance that we each already inhabit, just as we are.
2. This space is held by an abiding reverence for life; an ingredient as vital to our physical wellbeing as it is to the spiritual, emotional, social and ecological dimensions of our shared reality.
3. This space exists on the foundation of vision, faith and hope. These ingredients are essential to the longevity and vitality of our humanity: each no less dispensable than the other, these qualities are never a passive phenomenon, but are living practices. This space holds this recognition, and seeks to exercise each—unapologetically.
4. This space is supported by slow time, by a vertical time that operates so distinctively from the fast-paced, horizontal way in which we have become conditioned to think, feel, speak and act…. this space offers an entreaty to slow down….
To feel deeply….
To envision holistically….
To invite the kindred endeavors of reflection and deep contemplation to occupy
a greater part of our individual and collective lives….
…There is a certain healing potential in slowing down.
5. This space, at its core, is centered on the belief that love is the ultimate expression of our humanity, and that our endeavors to more fully comprehend what it is, what it is not, and what inhibits its expression is the penultimate challenge of our times. In this spirit, this space does not shy away from words like spirit, truth, love, heart and nobility—words that have become held with great disdain and distrust in our increasingly materialistic cultures.
6. And this space welcomes all. It is a celebration of the poetic souls, the creative and mystic hearts of the world; it honors those who envision life-affirming future possibilities and who dare to dream, hold faith in humanity, and endeavor to keep hope alive... And this is a space that recognizes the existence of that part in each and every one of us...
I look forward to being in this space with you,