(I am posting this on Good Friday, the day we held a Celebration of Life for Barb Beck. Here is a link to the words I shared at that service.)
And for April’s theme of Power…(with thanks to Rev. Kirk Loadman-Copeland and Touchstones Consulting.)
Power is a necessary part of life. Power was present in the Big Bang that gave birth to a universe with swirling galaxies and dark holes. Power is clearly evident in the ball of fire we call our sun. The ancient elements of water, wind, fire, and earth have powerfully shaped our home, the Earth, since its birth. And we each need power…fuel…to run our bodies and to get through our days.
Power is evident in every relationship in ways both helpful and brutal. Whether we are being authentic or dishonest, facilitating or controlling, helping or hindering, there is power at work in every interaction we have. And this means that power is transactional; it ebbs and flows in every relationship, family, group, community, organization, society, etc. More often than not, power is unbalanced, and is not evenly distributed.
To understand power, it is important to know how it is being used. Is it power-over, or is it power-with? Is it power-from or is it power-to? Is it power-full, or is it power-less? Is it brutal-force-power, or is it affirming-power?
For example, while power-over could be beneficial, as in the case of a loving parent, power-over is more commonly associated with the relationship of the oppressor to the oppressed, a hurtful power dynamic that is as ancient as humanity. But we could also use power-over to master the self through spiritual discipline, which hopefully leads to an our being able to use power in ways that can enhance the common good.
In my experience, however, power-with is far more powerful than power-over. When power is shared, power is multiplied. Shared power requires that everyone take and use the power that they have, but ironically, there is a tendency for us to act as if we have little or no power at all. As Marianne Williamson writes, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
None of us is completely powerless, although we may find ourselves in situations where we feel that way. The question is, what will we do with the power that we do have for the benefit of ourselves and others.
Welcome to April!