As the pandemic surges into the heart of summer, I feel some days as though I am walking through a cloud. Nothing is clear. No-one is certain. No path is plain to see.
It makes me think of a text I once studied, anonymously penned in the late 1300s, called The Cloud of Unknowing. The author traced the mystic's path: giving up - rather painfully giving up - all that we believe about ourselves and the world around us, in order to receive a glimpse of our true being, our true place in the world.
The plans I laid out for 2020 are dust behind me. The ways of doing business - closed; the trips, canceled; events, paralyzed. Not only that, but the person I believe myself to be is challenged as, once more, I ponder the privileged shade of my skin, my unwitting complicity in the very system of oppression I work to dismantle. Daily, I am learning how to not know what is next; how to yield what I believe myself to be, and what I presume my work will be, so that a more honest, passionate version of both may emerge.
I think of Ruth, who lost her job one miserable day in Nairobi. She worried how she would feed her children; how she would find any work at all. Days later, Henriette came across her path, and in that open place of not knowing, a spark led them to join forces and fire up something new: creating beauty out of refuse and recycling. They call their enterprise, Afrodutch, and this week, Ruth and Henriette sent us their latest triumph of imagination you see above. We call it Hope with Feathers. A piece of jewelry, taking flight.
A willingness to not know and still move forward - this is the path I want to choose. It demands an attentive and quiet heart, a willingness to look at everything with new eyes, and the energy to let go of self-made plans so that something radically new and outrageously fresh and out-of-the-ordinary might instead emerge.
I see signs of creative life flickering all around me, abounding, really. And within me. Especially inside this mysterious unpredictable cloud through which we are passing, together. At my best moments, I think: this is how things are made. Re-made. Made new.
Susan Hull Walker