There Is Only Service

I find I’m frequently watching a debate from the sidelines in the last couple of years – a debate that keeps being repackaged in different ways, but carries a familiar discomfort for me as it is hauled out into the light again and again.

It’s about the boundary line between what is political and what is religious.  Sometimes it is phrased as an issue of what comes first – embodied beings or gods.  Sometimes it is couched as an argument about which causes are political and which are spiritual.  Is caring for nature political?  Is #blacklivesmatter spiritual?

These debates produce discomfort in me because The Spirits I Serve do not carve the world up in this way, and They don’t understand why we do.

“We do not comprehend this thing you call political.”  They lean in closer, Their thoughts mingling with mine.  “There is only service.”

Only service.  As is so frequently the case, Their message comes as a series of pictures, of words that fit together in myriad ways.

heart shape made of small rocks

Heart made of small rocks, found in the desert at Ghost Ranch, Santa Fe, NM (Kimberly Kirner, 2017)

“Devotion to Us is devotion to life and death,” They show me – Their light and shadow, creative and destructive forces, swirling – an ever-changing balance.  “Devotion is to the art that We become.  You are in a sacred performance – your life itself is a rite.  Your office desk, your kitchen table, your bed are altars.  What do you truly offer Us?  We ask for your life.”

“We ask for your life.”  The only offering that is really ours to give, given on the altars of our very existence.  In every interaction we have with fellow beings, in every moment – yes, in the shower as we wash away the detritus of the world.  In the throes of passion while having sex.  As we drive along on our morning commute.  As we earn our living and spend our money.  In the most mundane of moments and the most profane of places.

“Real power can never been owned or restrained.  We see no boundaries, no tidy categories to organize life.  We see only hospitality: the opening of a space for Our presence.  And there is nothing We love more than to crack open that which is tightly locked, to erode your walls until the soul spills out into the world, until there is a realization that the precious divine power that is held within existence – that you so often presume is limited, that you clutch and grasp – becomes a seething river of chaotic liberation, until finally you feel unadulterated joy.”

I sense Their excitement, the sheer power of Their unfettered limitlessness and integrated connection.  There is no distinction – between Them and I, between myself and any other being.  I am process, and so are They, and so are you.  And all there is, is service.

“Open wider than you ever thought you could receive, until you come to feel that you would break.  And feel Us enter and fill all the little cracks, all the places the fabric of your being is worn thin.  And then look at the beings around you through Our gaze.  Let Us pulse through your hands until you long to hold each being near you close.  You are so capable of reaching into divinity, beloveds.  You can never be made less by loving and listening to another being more.”

(Was originally posted on my website, when it was active, in 2017.  The Spirits’ message is as relevant now as it was then, and I felt compelled to post it again.)

About the Author

I'm Kimberly Kirner, a Druid (in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids). My spirituality is focused first on serving the nature spirits of this lovely being we call Earth. I'm a professor of cultural anthropology by profession, specializing in environmental and medical anthropology. I started this blog to collect my thoughts and experiences that arise from my spiritual and creative (rather than professional) practice. I wanted a space, a time, to move differently in the world (and with a different group of people): to balance between an analytical approach and an intuitive one. For me, Druidry is about expanding our capacity to connect and communicate with the non-human world, deepening our commitment to justice for all beings, and re-enchanting the world so that we heal the brokenness and discord that exists between humans and our home. In many ways, my Druidic practice is a path toward walking between the worlds - of waking and dreaming, of the world as it is and the world as it could be. It is an attempt to love all beings through service, study, and art. I am not always great at it, but it's the commitment and perseverance that counts.

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