One of our Pan African students is named Divine Engagement. Her African given name, Botho, means respect, in the sense of respect for all creation. She is from Botswana. Imagine having a name meaning Respect For All Creation [with] Divine Engagement!
For some people, a set of names suggesting such lofty ideals might be a burden. Not for Botho. She radiates joy. She brings enthusiasm into the room with her. When she leads worship in the chapel, she dances as she directs us in singing songs of praise. She's small in stature, but large in presence.
BBC World Service broadcasts a program on Sunday mid-day called "Something Understood." Yesterday the theme was spiritual energy. After a series of readings and musical offerings, the commentator suggested that spiritual energy was available to all of us, if we were willing to seek and ask for it. But it doesn't just come, unbidden. We have to desire it, to be open to it, to embrace and use it. I thought of Botho Divine Engagement when I heard this program. She is full of spiritual energy, and she uses it to connect with those around her in a deep and joyful way.
Was it spiritual energy that kept Nelson Mandela strong during his years of incarceration? Was it spiritual energy that has enabled Aung San Suu Kyi to thrive despite years of persecution and house arrest? Certainly Ghandi radiated spiritual energy.
I used to lead Alternatives to Violence workshops in the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, as well as in the community. In that program, we talked about Transforming Power. Hard to define but easy to recognize, Transforming Power was understood as a resource bigger than ourselves, but available to us, that could help us change our attitudes or responses in potentially violent situations. I think somehow we were talking about spiritual energy. Participants gave testimony to the turning points in their lives that were created when they called upon Transforming Power.
Some might say it was spiritual energy that the early Christians received at Pentecost, that inspired them to take a message of love and forgiveness out to the world. Spiritual energy leads to action.
It's easy to think of our great examples of people who seemed to possess and use spiritual energy--the Martin Luther Kings and Eleanor Roosevelts of the world. But if spiritual energy is potentially available to all of us, why don't we see more of it? Botho Divine Engagement brings light wherever she goes. She is an ordinary person, but a person in touch with a power and a spirit that she transmits to others. Maybe spiritual energy is like a gift we have, waiting to be unwrapped and used.
I suspect that we have the potential to cultivate spiritual energy through practicing such disciplines as meditation, prayer, and reflection. We also must want to have it. Being filled with spiritual energy would mean that we would have to be willing to let it lead us into deeper engagement with others and with the source of all being.
Is that what scares us off...or keeps content with where we are? Or perhaps I should be honest and ask if that is what scares me and keeps me too busy with life?