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Artist unknown

Artist unknown

This week is energetically interesting, and for some it’s rather intense. This week, we have both the sun and the moon moving into Capricorn, becoming conjunct at exactly 0 degrees of Capricorn, heralding in the shortest or longest day of the year. As such, from my perspective, Winter Solstice is the beginning of the new year as far as the sun cycle is concerned. And this conjunction, which happened on Sunday, is ushering in the shift from Saturn-in-Scorpio to Saturn-in-Sagittarius also this week, Tuesday, December 23. Saturn will stay in Sagittarius for the next three years, and while significant to some for all three years, I see Saturn being most significant this year…from Winter Solstice to Winter Solstice.

Saturn is one of those planets people don’t like much…astrologically speaking. Saturn is a masculine energy who has the qualities of a ruler…and a rather unforgiving ruler at that. His focus is on accountability, discipline, karma, consistency, and hard work. There are no short-cuts or avoiding situations with Saturn. The only way through a situation is to face it directly and deal with the consequences of one’s choices and behaviors. Whining, complaining, victimizing, throwing temper tantrums, and blaming others doesn’t really work. It might be tolerated for a short while, but the bottom line remains…you gotta do the work, sooner or later.

So. What is this work we have to do?

As a missionary kid, I grew up with the belief that the work was “out there.” That there were people who needed to know what my parents knew and that our beliefs and practices were more important and valuable, particularly from a religious and salvation perspective, than those who didn’t believe as we did.

The problem with this belief is that it doesn’t align with the teachings of the Christian Bible. So, it didn’t take long for me to see the discrepancies between such practices and the teachings of “Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and “Judge not that ye might not be judged,” and “The greatest of these is Love,”  and “Forgive 70 times 7,” and the story of seeing a speck in someone’s eye and ignoring the log in your own eye, and on and on.

When we would return “home” on furlough, the world I saw in the United States, often touted as being “The Promised Land,” was vastly more dangerous, crime-ridden, and poverty-stricken than the world I lived in…the world where we were “saving souls.” I couldn’t help but wonder, Why is it more important and more valuable to leave my home country in order to do “God’s work?” Why isn’t it more valuable to stay in my community and help those who need it there?

I still feel this way.

The work isn’t “out there.” The work is wherever you are. There are things happening all over the world, some beautiful, some tragic. And because we have access to this information in ever-increasing ways, it’s easy to assume that we need to get involved…in everything that happens. But. If that were to happen, what would happen at home? Who would take care of things there if you left…the things only you can do? And if you get involved in places outside your community, what happens to those who actually live in those communities? Are they making a difference from the inside and stepping into their leadership opportunities? Or are we interfering by overstepping our boundaries and becoming inappropriately involved?

The vast majority of us are not in Missouri…or New York…or the Middle East…or Australia…or any other place where injustice is being highlighted. We are where we are. And we are where we are for a reason…to make a difference in our places…in our communities…for injustice exists everywhere regardless of media hype and attention.

Some may be called to run for office or become police officers or lawyers or judges…most will not. That’s ok. All are vitally important. For, no matter how many laws are put into place for equality or justice or fairness, it’s the daily activities of humanity that makes the greatest difference in healing the world. The simple things…opening a door for someone…smiling genuinely…listening…offering a helping hand to someone crossing the street or unloading a car or mending a fence…giving out of your abundance to a neighbor who has had a fire or who has just lost a job or been diagnosed with an illness or has just had a child…giving a hug…receiving a hug…giving a dollar (or five) to someone who needs it…accepting help from another…accepting differences in others without condition…finding ways to live abundantly without exploiting another person or country or community and so on.

The work, then, this year begins within. Discipline your inner life, keeping your energy and attachments on yourself and focusing solely on your journey and purpose. Practice yields mastery, and there will be plenty of opportunities for practice. Increase your self-control and lessen reactivity so there is space to see clearly in situations. Then, move slightly outwards…first to your family and friends, then to your larger community. Do what you can, always balancing your inner life with the outer one, for there is more than enough to do in those two arenas to keep you busy for many lifetimes. Progress may seem to be slow individually, but collectively, the potential is great for significant change.

Happy New Year!

Let the work begin.

And so it is.