Do you know the meaning of Night Watch?
It is new to me. An article originally printed in Southern Living’s December issue introduced me to the meaning of this African American tradition also called “Freedom’s Eve.” That this article, in itself, was curated into SL’s Christmas issue is a clue that our world has already changed, but I am getting ahead of myself.
As I read it, I allowed myself to sit with some deep emotions which carried me back in time. I imagined being in the reality of that great suffering (and joy) of New Year’s Eve in 1862, the night before the day of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln on January 1st, 1863. Though merely a glimpse of the Truth of that time, for the moment I was immensely moved.
Today, 160 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, we are again being asked to answer the call of Freedom from past injustice and further too reveal Injustice itself as our shared suffering in 2022. As we again approach Freedom’s Eve how do we honor our past while at the same time move forward? Finding the answer to this question has great personal meaning to me and is fundamental to our shared cultures as we hurdle toward another year of contagion.
Our response to this call must be a very conscious one. And if we can also summon our Creativity our response can be greatly effective too.
The opposite of violence is not Peace. Violence’s only product is destruction. The opposite of violence is Creativity! As a painter, being creative comes very naturally to me, but I wish to state here very plainly that, be you an artist or not, it is Creativity which animates all lives and all life. From this understanding we can surely see that “…our ultimate freedom lies in our capacity to interpret the world in new ways.” Seeing through this corrected lens and embodying it’s Truth we can, one by one, evoke a wave of creative energy within our own lives and thus our collective futures.
Martha Beck, author of The Way of Integrity, might ask, “What can I make from this moment?” In her book, she illustrates isolating the moment of choice and shares how practicing curiosity in times of stress, challenge, or confusion moves us beyond that which appears to be stagnate. She underscored for me that at each small choice point I can ask myself, “What is mine to create from this instant?” Then, I can slow down and choose again to listen for an inner response. As I become more skillful in this practice I imagine, like John Lennon before me, I am participating in the great shift of humanity choosing to “live for today.”
In breaking things down to actual choice points MB makes change truly accessible. As each of us begins to regard ‘conscious choice’ as an imperative in our own lives and in these times, our combined incremental choices will organically braid together. As a greater and greater percentage of people awaken to the power of ‘conscious choice’ I know the work of changing the world becomes ardently accessible and eventually robustly intrinsic. This is because we are all always creating.
With this understanding of ourselves as powerful and responsible creators, we can drop the insidious “self-satisfying racket” of victimhood that has made rusty the mechanics of compassion and distorted what it means to ‘live well.’ This consciousness has already begun. I see it everywhere. And with it comes our first steps toward Thriving – individually and as a community united. In 2022 may we all continue to heed the call for a more mature understanding of Freedom as a concept based in the mutuality of humanity and respond creatively in ‘kind.’
To quote botanist and author Robin Wall Kimmerer, “All thriving is mutual.”
Let It be so.