Love in a Dangerous Time
Title with a nod to Bruce Cockburn 
Imbolc, celebrated Feb. 1 in the Celtic world, is traditionally a time to sweep out the old and welcome in the new. A time of initiation into and commitment to a new path in life.
The process of initiation starts with the breakdown and death of old ways of living and behaving. A period of “sitting here in limbo,” as Jimmy Cliff once sang, follows, culminating in rebirth. Out of a nondescript, lumpy, gray-brown chrysalis emerges a butterfly with luminous wings and seemingly effortless flight. The butterfly, in turn, pollinates new growth in flowering plants.
At this moment, we are undergoing a process of initiation as a nation. The question is, what is dying and what is being born?
In the #MeToo movement, thousands of courageous people, mostly women, are stepping forward to challenge and stop sexual abuse and assault by men in positions of power. In doing so, they – and legions of supporters – are beginning to dismantle structures and practices that have systematically enabled and protected these men. The movement’s work has just begun; already it faces a huge backlash, primarily from men who are fearful or who stand to lose some of their power and privilege. Structures of dominance, maintained by violence and intimidation, do not come down easily. We are in a time of great promise and great risk.
Promise and risk are echoed and magnified in the ongoing investigation into the current administration’s corruption and likely violations of the law and Constitution. The president is an unfit, narcissistic, cruel man who has also, by his own admission, committed multiple acts of sexual violence and abuse. Millions of citizens have mobilized to fight the injustices he perpetrates and to support efforts to remove him from office. Our democracy, threatened from within and without, shows signs of vibrant life – rebirth. But powerful forces, motivated by ideology, greed and potential complicity in crimes, align to threaten the investigation and our Constitutional systems of justice and separation of powers. Though these systems have flaws, they provide a bulwark against autocracy. The United States has supported plenty of murderous, malignant dictatorships but has never yet become one. We can now see more clearly than ever how it could. This must not happen.
Structures of dominance do not come down easily. It is understandable that at times we may be consumed by worry and fear: what if Trump fires Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller? What if the Republicans allow him to destroy our democracy? Then what kind of rebirth is in store for us?
Early yesterday morning, at such a time, I spoke to my ancestors, many of whom experienced tyranny first-hand. We are in trouble, I said. Please help us. The answer came immediately: love. Love is more powerful than any of the threats we are facing. If I keep love in my heart and act from love, I will always be on the right path. Love of myself, family, community, the Earth and all people and beings. Love of my ancestors and the spirits who unfailingly support me in times of need.
This sounds simple, simplistic; it isn’t.
For me, there is no separation between spiritual practice and political action. The soul, for this life at least, is rooted in the body. On a vision quest several years ago, I received the strong message that to journey outside the body in a spiritual way, I needed to first be anchored in it. We are connected to all beings on a cellular level.
Actions we take to protect ourselves and other humans, and all life on Earth, have both a physical and spiritual basis. Our ancestors and helping spirits are present in non-physical ways to guide us.
The path of initiation is never an easy one, and its outcome is often uncertain. As I contemplate the immense complexities and threats that unfold daily, I root my body in the Earth and my heart and soul in love.
 Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” from Stealing Fire, A&M Records, 1984.
 Jimmy Cliff, “Sitting in Limbo,” from The Harder They Come, Island Records, 1972.