In our hearts
As I write this, over 100,000 people are in the streets in Bahrain, a country with a total population only 5 times that size. Protesters in Yemen and Libya are facing off against tear gas and aerial bombardment. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor whose 3 daughters were killed when an Israeli rocket hit his home, just released a book (I Shall Not Hate) calling for dialogue instead of violence. Recent polls show that young people are open to a variety of sexual orientations because (and here’s the important part) so many of their dorm-mates and friends risked coming out during college, it became normal. A young woman sings despite her fundamentalist father’s ban. A scientist puts forth a theory on the nature of the universe that his colleagues say is crazy.
And everyone who excelled in ability and all whose volunteer-heart moved him/her came, bringing an offering to God for the construction of the Tent of Meeting.
And so friends, we’re back — after the slight side trip for the Golden Calf — to building. This week and next, we are no longer receiving instructions for the sanctuary and altar and sacred vestments. We’re making it happen. We’re bringing our gold buckles and earrings, our crimson & blue yarns, our woven linen, goats’ hair, tanned skins, copper bowls, precious stones, and acacia wood. We’re spinning, setting, carving, stitching, hammering. Our hearts are letting us know what needs to be done. In fact, we do so much that Bezalel (the chief architect) and Oholiav (the second in command) tell Moses it’s too much! The people are going overboard.
They’re no longer afraid. They want to give.
I understand this heart-based going overboard. I understand heeding the call to do something. The poem that bonded me to my spouse when first we met is Marge Piercy’s To Be Of Use. I love those who are driven by their hearts (and not their fear-laden heads) — artists, democracy-builders, dreamers, free spirits, muck-rakers. People who make things, even crazy-ass things, happen. I regularly quiz myself: would I stand with them (whoever the them might be) or would I play it safe? I’m thankful – and disappointed – that I’ve never had to test my resolve to the limit.
Yesterday, coincidentally, my homeopath said that my heart was feeling a little disconnected, that I was taking too much responsibility for fixing the entire world (and this from measuring my electrical pulse, not from psychoanalysis). She gave me some pills that contain dandelion root, good for the liver as well as the heart. I’m taking them, although I’m not sure I want to give up an ounce of my anger & sadness & compassion about the way the world is constantly going to hell in a hand-basket — though it would be a good idea to give up some of my gratuitous worrying.
My little heart aside, I love that we call this structure we’re building the tent of meeting, the place where we gather to be part of something larger than ourselves. I love that it is a place made beautiful by our individual contributions AND that it has a specific plan and vision. I wonder, though, if we can really ever give too much. I wonder about when the giving ceases to be genuine and becomes just another half-attended-to habit. I’m praying for all those who are putting their hearts and bodies on the line as I type.