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Lions Roar : March 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MArcH 2009 83 from having to succeed, we discover that it becomes easier to love. we stop scape- goating, we stop blaming, and we stop being disappointed in each other. we realize that we truly are in this together, and that’s all that matters. i know this to be true from my work, through the berkana institute, with col- leagues in very desperate places. Zimbabwe has been the most compelling teacher— watching our friends and colleagues there deal with the descent of their country into violence, terror, and starvation, the result of a dictator gone mad. we’ve stayed in close contact by e-mail, phone, and periodic visits. we’ve learned that no matter how despairing the circumstance, it is our relationships that offer us solace, guidance, and joy. as long as we’re together, as long as we feel others supporting us, we can perse- vere. a Zimbabwean, in her darkest moment, wrote: “in my grief i saw myself being held, us all holding one another in this incredible web of loving-kindness. Grief and love in the same place. i felt as if my heart would burst with holding it all.” thomas Merton was right. we are consoled and strengthened by being together. we don’t need specific outcomes. we don’t need hope. we need each other. Liberated from hope and fear, we find ourselves receiving the gift of patience. we abandon the pursuit of effectiveness and watch as our urgency fades and patience appears. patience is, perhaps, this journey’s destination. st. augustine taught this in- furiating truth: “the reward of patience is patience.” Years ago, the dalai Lama coun- seled a group of my colleagues who were depressed about the state of the world to be patient. “do not despair,” he said. “Your work will bear fruit in 700 years or so.” Can we do our work without needing to see results? Can we be content that our work might bear fruit, but not in our lifetime? Can we cheerfully plant seeds with little concern for the harvest? Consider the visionary leadership of Moses and abra- ham. they carried promises given to them by their God, but they also knew they would not live to see these promises fulfilled. they led from faith, not hope, from a relationship with something greater beyond their comprehension. t.s. eliot de- scribes this better than anyone, in “four Quartets”: I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. My heart holds the image of us journeying in this way through this time of disintegra- tion and rebirth. insecure, groundless, patient, beyond hope and fear. and together. ♦ © 2009 by Margaret Wheatley