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  • Franca Baroni

The End of a Long Winter

Life is filled with beauty in the moment, rarely in the past or future. The smallest evidence of beauty can be found in the most dramatic circumstances. It depends on the glasses we wear and the station we tune in to. It is a choice we have each moment, individually and as a species. This choice is easily forgotten and our mind becomes bored with the present as it prefers to engage with stories of the past and future. From experience we often learn that life moves us like a wave, no matter and despite our stories.

There is nothing wrong with the polarization, turmoil and destruction in our world. It is part of a necessary and natural ending of a very long winter that is making room for spring. While the world seems to wreak havoc around us the seeds of early spring are blossoming everywhere. We will not detect the countless buds if we panic in hopelessness about the coldness of winter. We simply have to take the gloomy glasses off and start to listen to the world and life itself rather than ruminating ideas of what the right world should be.

As reputable scientists declare that we are three minutes away from a cataclysm, as we follow the political puppet theater in our country and elsewhere, as we witness the steady and expanding hold of organized crime worldwide, as we experience environmental degradation and collapse, as we deal with tremendous human suffering, one might wonder whether spring — new healthy fresh life — will ever come.

We can surrender our quest for world peace, learn to navigate life with radical self-responsibility and peace will find us in the messiness and seasons of life. This is what heart-centered citizenship is all about: practices that allow us to stop waiting for the warm season, the other, the politicians, the corporations, the terrorists and the world circumstances to change.

As a species we tend to reject and judge winter. If the sun shines it is a good day. If it is stormy and cold, it is not. We get the winter blues and want to run away desperately seeking a few rays of sun. Winter often finds us anyway no matter the season or weather. Our running away from the inner storms just gets more sophisticated.

For a few thousand years we have been in the winter blues hoping for the sun, the Son, the liberator will show up and enlighten us with wisdom. For the scientifically minded, we have been desperately analyzing the data of winter hoping for the emergence of new enlightening solutions to world “problems”. Either way, we have been dwelling in the winter of past and future and thus tuning out the wisdom of winter in the present.

To enter the wisdom of winter we disengage from the media/social media frenzy and the eternal search for liberation coming from science, God or many of the sophisticated spiritual gurus mushrooming everywhere with the promise of a better world. We slow down enough to observe the simple principles guiding life that are whispered to us continually wherever we look: seasons, ebb and flow, moon and sun, night and day, dissolution and creation, death and life and the list goes on.

These practices move us into the brilliance of the public heart. In the public heart we are in alignment and flow with the wisdom of the seasons no matter how cold it gets. In the public heart we discover how to trust the small and big cycles of life while we cultivate compassion for our fighting, resisting, controlling, fixing and the countless antiques of our collective mind.

In the public heart we do not become doormats or indulge in the suffering and manipulations triggered by others. In the public heart we do not collapse into sympathy and seek to rescue others from their choices. In the public heart we recognize the power of each of us to co-create and focus on our part alone. In the public heart we recognize the struggles of humankind in the process of growth and evolution and cultivate our courage to make our own healthy choices with kindness and generosity without any attachments to outcomes or expectations. In the public heart we move from agenda to intentions, from control to surrender.

The heart-centered citizen is the one who stops waiting and fighting for the “right” candidate and recognizes himself as an essential cell of the collective body in the present. The one who serves the whole in that he chooses to see, hear, understand, ponder, re-evaluate, pause, fall into dissolution, and rise into an integrated whole. The heart-centered citizen is the one who dwells in the continuous knowing of the unknown and who speaks with humble assertion of his own limitations. The heart-centered citizen is the one who engages with the firmness of her own power and the kindness of her own intentions; the one who is awake and willing to lift the veils of illusions; the one who holds the essence of freedom and justice; the one who stops seeking peace and effortlessly moves with the seasons of humankind.

To the collective mind the public heart is a foreign, nebulous even irrelevant land. To the public heart the collective mind is a lost, lonely and tired island sitting on a prosperous planet.As we are moving to the end of this long winter, let’s BE heart-centered citizens and drop into the medicine and wisdom of the public heart. We not only will flow with the dissolution more easily but we will see and strengthen our trust in the evidence of spring around us.

The heart-centered citizen is the one who shines in the darkness while having the courage to face the darkness in the light of the day. So, let’s rise and shine!

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