Elul is that time of the year to reflect and prepare ourselves mentally for the High Holidays approaching. Each day of Elul, I’ll reflect on a theme and invite you to come along on that journey. Feel free to comment with your reflections on the theme, post your own blog or Facebook thoughts, or just quietly give yourself a bit of spiritual space.
It seems strange to me that the yesterday’s theme was “DO,” and today’s theme is “ACT.” I’ve been thinking all day yesterday and today about the difference between the two. After all, don’t they both lead us to believe that we are making something – whatever it is – a reality?
It’s nice to DO. Getting things DONE fills me with a sense of responsibility and accomplishment. I enjoy crossing things off my “To Do” list. Even if I have to put dumb stuff on there to make me feel better, like brushing my teeth or taking a shower. A girl’s got to get her kicks somewhere.
But “acting,” for me, implies more than taking responsibility. There’s more to “ACT” than moving from intention. There are lots of things that I DO, but the way I ACT describes my way of being. What’s my general attitude toward the world? How do I treat people? Do I act with kindness, with respect, with compassion? I can only hope. There are some days I feel pretty good about the human being I’ve been. Other days, well…maybe I missed the mark.
And taking action. It speaks to me more strongly than doing. Taking action means there’s something I feel strongly about. I’m connecting myself with a strongly-held belief and I am trying to manifest that value in the world somewhere.
Do I have enough action in my life? Do I behave with intention, in a manner that shares with the world what I believe in, and what I find valuable? Sometimes, and in some ways – like who I am when I’m with my students – I find that action comes easily and naturally.
Other times, I see the news coverage from Ferguson, or read of the damage corporations do to our environment, or think on the the inequities of race and economics in public schooling. I confess I’m filled with deep-seated feelings of anger and frustration. Soon to follow, though, are the feelings of hopelessness that prevent me from taking action. I just feel so…small.
I’m always trying to think of how I can make things better. Sometimes I think I could. Other days, I’m not so sure. It’s difficult to see beyond the horizon of my limitations as I perceive them. I see people who make more global issues their life’s work, and I wish that could be me. I guess, however, they would tell me action starts with a single, manageable step.
What would I do?
What could I do?