“Your playing small does not serve the world.”


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

I find myself bouncing around with each day’s political news. When I was in college in the early 70’s I led a demonstration to celebrate the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in both houses of Congress. I was passionate about the ERA. I was convinced that were it not adopted by the states, women would be forever in danger of having our rights retracted. Over the decades I admit I’ve grown complacent. Never would I have imagined that in 2012 we would be talking about a woman’s right of access for basic birth control. I strongly agree with Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s op-ed in the Washington Post on Feb 9 that the Affordable Health Care Act includes  “A Rule that Protects Women and Respects Faith.”

As a person of faith, and a respecter of the separation of church and state, I certainly want to acknowledge any church or synagogue or mosque’s right to positions that differ from mine. But my anger erupts at what feels like the manipulation of male dominated institutions to politicize what to me is a basic women’s health issue. Rep. De Lauro writes: “The administration exempts churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship. The rule applies only to institutions and businesses that serve the larger community and employ people of different faiths on a non-religious basis. This preserves individual conscience protections while enabling employees of all faiths to have access to the health care they need.”

When I was a college student, I took risks to “show up” and not “play small.”  That was many years ago now. Very rarely in recent years have I felt so confronted by the need to remember that my “playing small does not serve the world.” I’m not sure what to do. I do acknowledge some feelings of inadequacy, and that my anger frightens me a bit. I have learned that it is more true to who I am to act from a place of deep conviction rather than fiery outrage. And so I plan to use my triggered emotions to recall the passionate college student of long ago but seek out that in me which is currently “meant to shine, as children do.”  I want to challenge myself to stay with these angry feelings and to get to that illuminating sense of justice that can liberate my own fears. By so doing, I believe I can show up fully, and thereby “automatically liberate(s) others.”


About helena grace

Actively seeking how to live in this seventh decade of my life with creativity, compassion, and imagination. While I'm a retired lawyer/mediator and life-long community activist especially in child advocacy, my relationships with others, two-legged and four-legged, define the source of my growth. My spiritual life connects deeply with music and in the community of the creative. I treasure being a mother, wife, grandmother, and daughter. I experience glimpses of the divine in children's illustrated books, peoples of the world, artists, especially of indigenous art forms. I am intrigued at the possibility of finding kindred spirits in the blogosphere, and exploring how to be authentic and maintain a sense of the sacred, and perhaps the private, in such a global dimension.

4 responses »

  1. Appreciate the thoughts shared here. I can identify with sometimes not wanting to shine too brightly, and other times concerned I might have tried to shine too brightly. Passion, yet guarding against self-righteousness helps keep a realistic perspective in this world with many points of view.

    I’m willing to give all women choices and demand that I be given choices, too. I do resent the politicization of a personal issue that I believe belongs to each woman to decide based on their choice.

    • What an important reminder. We do need to find the courage to shine brightly with our passions, yet recognize the temptation towards self-righteousness. Is this a time where women, maybe particularly those of us who are older, need to model our convictions about choices? I loved the news story today about the women in Virginia protesting in silence as legislators walked by who were slated to vote on a bill to force women choosing abortion to submit to unwanted and unnecessary examinations/screenings of their bodies. The message to me was, we women must not be silenced and have government order us to submit. We must be seen, and heard. Women Protest in Silence href=”http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/02/20/women-protest-anti-abortion-legislation-in-virginia/” title=”Women Protest in Silence” rel=”nofollow”>

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