“There is a quiet courage that comes from an inward spring of confidence in the meaning and significance of life. Such courage is an underground river, flowing far beneath the shifting events of one’s experience, keeping alive a thousand little springs of action.”

— Howard Thurman

Dear Springhouse community,

I learned a long time ago that, when things are falling apart, I can create something sturdy in the midst of it. When insanity prevails in and around me, as hard as it is, I can choose sanity. It’s not easy, but it is possible. It has taken courage, creativity, and discipline that comes from a power greater and deeper than the insanity itself. It is that underground river, which Howard Thurman speaks of in the quote above, that gives rise to thousands of tiny springs of sanity at a time when sanity is desperately needed.

When I choose sanity, I choose vitality. I choose Life – the mysterious force that fundamentally animates and brings us alive. Vitality is life authentically expressing itself through us, no matter what life stage we are in, or who we are, or where we are. Sanity might look happy, fun, or easy, but it also might look like grief or long held anger being expressed in ways that are transformative and responsible. Vitality is living the gift of this life fully and authentically in ways that strengthen each one of us – and the whole.

Coming alive is our birthright, and living in the conditions that allow us all to come alive is sanity. This is not the reality we live with right now. We are surrounded by insanity – so much so it can be hard to know what to be or do. No matter how hard we try, we cannot ultimately force change, in ourselves or in others. We can, though, start by choosing sanity ourselves. We can tap into that underground river and act in the name of sanity for all.

Sanity needs support once it is chosen, especially when that choice is made while surrounded by insanity. We live in a world where we continue to do what does not work over and over again – and continue to expect different results. That is the definition of insanity.

There are small ways I participate in insanity in my own life. Getting in the business of my family members when it’s not my place and thinking it is going to go well. Not speaking up when I know I must and experiencing the consequences. When I continue to do those things, thinking they will somehow work when they haven’t in the past, that is insanity. We can repeat what doesn’t work personally, and we can do this collectively. We see this on the world stage every day at the expense of many lives, including the wellbeing of our planet.

When I choose sanity, I choose Life – not perfection. I choose vulnerability and messiness. Insanity is commonplace these days, so to choose sanity, unfortunately, is countercultural. Anything new in the face of fear is shaky and uncertain. There is so much going against sanity. For me, my greatest chance for sanity lives in the underground river that springs into a thousand little springs. I ultimately cannot recover that sanity alone, though the choice does begin with me. One thing I know for sure: When I choose sanity, my life is more vital. When we choose sanity as a community, we are more vital. It does not look one way, and it is often not easy, but it is more vital and, therefore, more alive and more vulnerable.

When we wake up to the insanity of ourselves and our world, it is our responsibility to choose sanity. This looks different for each one of us and for each community. I celebrate those who have the courage, compassion, creativity, and clarity to create “islands of sanity,” the term that elder and author Meg Wheatley uses for the examples of vitality we create amidst the dying systems of a dominant culture. Thank you for choosing sanity in your own life and for creating oases in your own communities for others to thrive.

It is with deep gratitude for the underground river that I write to you today. Thank you for reading and may your days be blessed.


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