Reflections on Discernment

Reflections on Discernment

Discernment is one of those less fashionable attributes. It’s not showy or pushy. It doesn’t demand the limelight and slips in quietly without an entourage. Appropriate for these times.

When the foundations of western society falter as we realise they were built on sand, it can be a disorientating time. And this is where discernment is an ally.

Discernment is an attribute we can cultivate

It’s easily overlooked. In the incessant din of opinion and counter opinion, who needs discernment when you can open any social media feed and be told what to wear, what to eat, what to do and what to think depending on your inclinations.

And this, this is something at the heart of our predicament. We have outsourced our wisdom to those who shout loudest or flatter our egos the best or reassure and soothe our fears in the most dulcet tones.

Discernment comes to our rescue, giving us pause before we jump on someone else’s train

Insecurity comes in many forms. Not knowing what to think and asking others to do that for us, is just one form. But it infantilises us.

Now more than ever, it looks to me, we are being asked to grow up. To use our powers of reflection and contemplation so we can discern where to put our attention, where and how to spend our time and money, when to act and when to pause.

In learning something new, in my case about anti-racism work, it can be tempting to jump in with the right phrases, the cool memes and a show of activism but we know when it feels off (and so do others). When it is about being seen to be or do something simply because that recognition shores up our ego or fragile sense of self, then our actions are at best hollow and at worst counter productive or damaging.

Unlearning old habits of thought can be uncomfortable at times, but discernment is our ally

Just as we know when we are tired and hungry our mood is likely to drop and in that state, our judgement gets clouded; so too, when we discern we are wanting to act from a place of insecurity, we can pause and wait for a settling that will allow an action to arise that promotes connection rather than taking us further away

Pausing, allowing ourselves to settle, allowing love to fill us, can have far greater impact than a load of social media shares done in a rush of ‘I must do something.’

Discernment is not something to learn or acquire; it’s always available when we settle and get intimate with that felt sense that tells us we’re home.

Note: Written 6 August 2020, published 18 August 2020

 

‘Everything I do is dedicated to exploring and appreciating the wonder of the human spirit. Going deeper. Beyond what we know. I do that through heartfelt conversations, sharing the 3 Principles as expressed by Sydney Banks, pointing people home and through writing, poetry, art and illustration.’ Juliet Fay – For the curious, subscribe to my list, that’s where you get to hear about upcoming gatherings and get original content direct to your inbox
 

Consumption versus creativity

Consumption versus creativity

consumption, creativity: in breath, out breath.
every day, consuming food and drink: essential to life

but not all of it

every moment creating: things, relationships, ideas, experiences.
consuming ever more information, drama, energy, fuel, food, time,
the planet’s, ours, other people’s

always wanting more

over consumption driven by desires that cannot be met
for comfort, excitement, security, power, immortality even.
short term dopamine hits to soothe over-excited systems
if all we are is a lone separate human among 7 billion others

why wouldn’t we go on a binge?

chasing connection, inner fulfilment, chasing away our demons
with every click, glug, fight and scroll we get further away
draining the life blood from ourselves, our planet, our children
weary, frightened, ready to attack, we cower, duck or dive

the frenzy of desire takes us to the brink

to go forward is to fall into the abyss, chaos, destruction
we pause, catch a different note and hear a different song
the song of creation, re-formed in every out breath
our stories swirl like bridal gowns released from moth balls

but beyond is the crucible holding each sacred act of creation
fixing your hair, taking out the trash, typing a text
reading aloud to a child, waving at the neighbour
tiny acts unnoticed, forgotten, yet weaving this web of experience

acts of love, reciprocity, generosity and service
made daily, often unremarked, acts of humanity
everyday creation, pulling the threads that bind us
when we’re already swimming in the same sea

only we forget and flounder and flail about
and create the illusion of drowning when
all we’re doing is making a wave
in the sea of belonging, the sea of love

to notice, to see, just to see, is enough
to wake up and worship at the altar of creativity
go out, with glad hearts and celebrate
the daily acts of creation that connect us

© words and artwork, image of original watercolour pencil artwork, sun & moon abstract by Juliet Fay 2020

This piece is in a new style for me, neither prose nor poetry, inspired by the writing of Bernadine Evaristo, author of Booker Prize joint winner with Girl, Woman, Other. In the book she uses no capital letters, just line breaks. I was amazed how quickly I got over the initial feeling of disruption and adjusted to it as the new normal.

Juliet Fay is a poet and Three Principles facilitator and local admin of a Buy Nothing Project group. Subscribe to her list to hear news of gatherings (virtual for now), and receive original writing and artwork direct to your inbox. Find out about being mentored by Juliet or Wellbeing Sessions

Joy: a poem an reflection

Joy: a poem an reflection

So often a fleeting state, seen as hard won or not relevant to the cut and thrust of daily life. A momentary dazzling of the senses, a peak experience, snapped for Instagram. Yet there is more to joy than meets the eye. A potent healer of self and others. A transformative, contagious state, where all that has been can be swept away in an instant as something new is revealed. How might we nourish joy in our hearts? If, as it seems to me, it is there, lurking, ready to break through the surface of our awareness at any moment, is nourishment simply relaxing into it, recognising the constricted, fearful thinking that takes us away from it?

And what of avoidance, bypassing, living in la-la land. That’s not joy. That takes as much effort, in terms of denial and wilful head in the sand blindness, as living in negativity. It just dresses itself up as positive when in fact it requires the same degree of dehumanising as its opposite, wilful cruelty.

Joy is something else. A willingness to be joyful is a good start. Knowing it brings healing is all the encouragement we could want, isn’t it? Joy in being alive, joy in the foibles and ridiculousness of ourselves and others, joy in the millions of unseen movements that make up this living, breathing planet. Joy in the fierceness of the human spirit, the resilience of the tiniest plant clinging to life on a windswept rock. Joy in being part of this unknowable, incredible whole. Joy in the journey with all its ups and downs.

What are you seeing?