This was a step into darkness that I had been trying to avoid — the darkness of seeing myself more honestly than I really wanted to. To acknowledge and embrace my own liabilities and limits. Perhaps there is a lesson here about the complexity, even duplicity, we must embrace on the road to vocation, where we sometimes find ourselves needing to do the right thing for the wrong reason. The social systems in which these people must survive often try to force them to live in a way untrue to who they are. But in spite of that threat, or because of it, the people who plant the seeds of movements make a critical decision: they decide to live “divided no more.” They decide no longer to act on the outside in a way that contradicts some truth about them-selves that they hold deeply on the inside. They decide to claim authentic selfhood and act it out — and their decisions ripple out to transform the society in which they live, serving the self-hood of millions of others.
Where do people find the courage to live divided no more when they know they will be punished for it? The answer is simple: these people have transformed the notion of punishment itself. They have come to understand that no punishment anyone might in-flict on them could possibly be worse than the punishment they inflict on themselves by conspiring in their own diminishment. Since my own life runs no risk of being displayed in a museum case, I want to return briefly to the story I know best — my own.
Now I Become Myself – May Sarton
Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before–”
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!
Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer