Resilience is that enigmatic quality we all seek when life gets rocky; it is the quality that allows us to dig deep, find renewed courage and face our biggest fears so we can tame our dragons and emerge unscathed at the other end of turbulent times.
Radical resilience offers us that hidden ability during crisis to get back up, dust ourselves off and generate a new vision for our lives at every level.
Genuine resilience has nothing to do with claims of invincibility, superiority or willpower; rather, it depends on our willingness to be vulnerable and stand firm at the very times when we don´t know the next step.
In spiritual terms, resiliency involves the commitment to awaken further during times of setback instead of shutting down, and that awakening leads to growth in wisdom and faith.
Charles Dickens´ classic novel A Tale of Two Cities, opens with these lines:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair … we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”
These words could well be used to describe current times instead of the French Revolution era almost 250 years ago that Dickens described! It tells about a time of chaos, conflict and despair; a time of controversies and contradictions, as well as happiness.
Still today, these challenges are inherent in life and thus continue. Life is filled with difficulties and triumphs, obstacles and opportunities.
Humanity is in the midst of a resurgent pandemic, suffering from a lack of leadership and facing the threat of economic collapse. We are caught up in civic uprisings and struggles against racial and social injustice worldwide. Beyond these immediate threats, we´re still facing a global climate crisis that makes the rest of our actions look like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Because all things are interconnected, the transformation we yearn for involves not a single change, but a cascade of complex changes. The way we approach these changes, could ultimately lead to global destruction or a genuine transformation of the world as we´ve known it.
The critical choices and responsibilities are ours.
We are being called to a greater sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. Effective choices and actions must come from a deeper level of understanding. We are called on to embark on a collective rite of passage to transform old beliefs and find new ways to orient our lives despite radical uncertainty and rapid change.
The pressure caused by continuing, rapid, major crises reveals hidden fault lines, great inequities and painful injustices in all areas of our lives. It is calling us to respond with more than simple survival: long-term resilience requires that we respond in the midst of crisis with genuine inner change on a personal level, so we can merge our purified vision with others` to transform society from the bottom up.
Resilience is a hard-earned quality. It is not developed by a life of comfort, ease and safety, despite what the ego would have us believe. Only when faced with obstacles, stress, and external threat does resilience develop. Psychological studies show that children who do not face adversity early in life tend to lack a capacity for resiliency. As the old proverb goes, “Smooth seas make bad sailors.”
Resiliency can be developed by facing difficult times with faith and courage. It does not matter how many setbacks we face, or how many failures we experience, what matters is how we respond to challenges.
The soul is the only aspect of a person that cannot be overwhelmed. It is the seat and living source of human resilience.
We deepen our resilience by responding from the soul, and not the ego. Whereas the ego screams for revenge, the soul takes inventory and accepts humble responsibility for its own part in the unfolding picture. Instead of stirring up more turmoil, it forgives the wrongs. In so doing, it neutralizes the escalation of hatred and anger by extending forgiveness and compassion.
No matter how dark the night, the soul can find salient aspects to help the human soul awaken further. There is much that we can do to support this process.
We are in a collective rite of passage, a rare state of transition that can transform the nature of societies worldwide. If we can hold a vision for the emergence of a more inclusive humanity, we can find ways to navigate the rough terrain from here to there. Meanwhile, we need to embrace the unifying moments of community that appear in the midst of conflict, participating in these moments as part of the collective healing process where we agree to protect and care for one another.
In these troubled times, we can also draw closer to like-minded souls who share this greater vision. Our soul tribe may span the globe and all timelines past, present and future. We can find comfort in nature and in our animal companions. And we can draw from the well of Spirit to renew our faith so we can hold that vision for the world we wish to create, standing strong, brave and unwavering in the face of the demolition of the old. We can tend the sacred spark of our inner lives to embody a more soulful presence in this world.
Ultimately, it is the awakened soul that rises above isolation and despair. By nurturing this awakened state in ourselves and others, we will find the strength to hold onto that higher collective vision and to do our part toward its fulfillment. In fact, it is our sacred duty to support and serve the sparks of holiness we find others and in the world.
The light that burns in us is also the light that dwells in others; it is the hidden light at the center of all things. When the inner light of soul awakens from within, it enlivens things in the world around us as well. That is how things change, from the inside out; from the soul to the world. The radical resilience of the awakened heart can hold a vision of greater inclusiveness to spur us on toward acts of courage and forgiveness, leading us toward the creation of a better world.