Growing Our Souls

“These are the times to grow our souls. Each of us is called upon to embrace the conviction that despite the powers and principalities bent on commodifying all our human relationships, we have the power within us to create the world anew.”


When I first heard Grace Lee Boggs, I was rooted to the spot, unable to move away from the radio. Her cheerful, strong 95 year old voice answered all the questions Tavis Smiley and Cornell West could muster. I’d never heard anyone talk about growing a soul or give such credence to imagining new ideas for our world. And the WAY she talks. “We have reached a time on the clock of the world where we need to make a new beginning, a paradigm shift in almost everything thing that we do.” I had my paper and pencil out– scribbling notes like a reporter, hardly daring to breathe lest I miss something. I know we need to create a new world order—I know it in every part of my mind, heart and body. And it all depends on our souls, Grace says, a power that can “make a way out of no way.” Smiley and West, — like me,sometimes look out at the current situation and only see how grave it is. And it is grave. Still, as Grave Lee Boggs says “the devastation opens the way.”

When they persisted with their questions, she retorted (kindly) “don’t preoccupy yourself with ‘them’. When you are preoccupied with the negative, you can’t see the positive that is exploding all around you. The negative is a challenge to create new positives.” Wow. Now that’s a fully realized Forest Dweller. She gives you an idea of how incredible it could be of Boomers were to stop worrying about their portfolios and numbers and start working on their souls.

ImageForest Dwellers, by definition, are aging. Those days when I could party, study or create all night and then work all day and do it time after time are gone. I am learning “chi running” because the bounce of regular running is too hard on my body. The signs of age 61 are upon me though my internal age varies between 16 and 50. It is a question that wants to be answered. If I am past my physical and mental prime, what is my path now?

Grace Lee Boggs answers me. What we can do is– grow our souls. That is the Forest Dweller task. It is everyone’s task but it belongs especially to this stage of life. From taking care of our parents, we see what the Renunciate stage looks like. It shimmers in the future, this specter of our lives to come. But it also reminds us that we are not there yet. Our children have gone from the Student to the Householder stage. We Forest Dwellers can inhabit each one of these stages at anytime—allowing Beginner’s Mind to let us be students again, learning the ropes of being a Householder in different circumstances, renouncing aspects of career, relationships, material goods and ambition. Through all of those steps, we can grow our souls.

And always, we come back to the Forest Dweller perspective, this longing to focus on the deep center of our being before it is too late. ImageThose little wake up calls we get from the Universe remind us that the clock is ticking and at the end of the journey, the inner garden is the one we will harvest, not the outer accoutrements.

I will come back to the last post about Nawang Khechog tomorrow. Sometimes blogging turns out to be like surfing the internet. You start with one idea and end up with another. Once I got my teeth into Grace Lee Boggs, I couldn’t let go. Check the grand lady out, she is pretty damn magnificent.