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My grandmother’s heart overflows this morning, so it seems important to honor this moment in time with words. It is Jan 13, 2017, and a week today we will inaugurate a new president into the White House. With all the places I have lived, you probably don’t think of me as being a political kind of person, (your Pa speaks a lot more about that stuff usually), but I have decided to participate in the Women’s March on Washington, on the day after the inauguration.
So why does your nature-loving Nana who loves quiet, wilderness, and her own sacred garden want to hold signs and get exhausted feet tramping down city streets with thousands of people?! (Someone even told me I should wear diapers because there might not be enough places to pee – imagine!) What is it that we so urgently want this president and new government to know and care about?
I write to say – I am doing this on your behalf. I will march with your precious names physically written on my body and the names of every grandchild of every being on this planet will be on my heart. I want to stand up and prayerfully shout on behalf of every living eco-community/family on this precious earth – for all life. It’s a first for me to do this so visibly, but I’m convinced we are at a cross-roads. If we as humans don’t continue to make big changes in our lifestyles, values, and choices about how we treat our planetary home, your generation will pay a price that is impossible to imagine. As a woman, your own grandma, I know this.
We absolutely must learn to more deeply honor our Earth mother. If we reverse the caring, respectful flow that has begun nationally and globally, then you children will suffer and see unimaginable years ahead. I won’t list every horrible result of our terrible ignorance and negligence – I actually resist how that fear paralyses us – but instead, for a moment, let’s imagine something completely wonderful together.
Think of each the amazing North American forests, deserts, mountains and oceans that our family have played in together. Imagine the fresh waters of the Canadian lake we have swum in every year. Conjure up images of all the magnificent African beasts that I have told you about, those ones I was raised with as my friends and wild family. Breathe – consider this air, the water you drink every day, the fresh veggies you helped me pick in my garden. Now stretch even farther to every tiny micro-organism we cannot see, and beyond, to the farthest star hidden behind sun. Imagine people across the globe of every color, poor people and people of power all linked like us, within relationship with their land and creatures, safe in their beloved places.
Stop for a minute. Now see this all together! Weave all this in fabulous color within your wildest imagination, with your most favorite music and then dance your butts off! Can you feel this intricate and unimaginably scintillating rainbow web of God-Spirit energy that keeps evolving; dying and giving birth, and in time forming precious brand new generations of human and other-than-human grandchildren. Awesome – eh?! (now there’s a perfect Canadian expression still left in me!)
Precious ones, I will walk on Saturday in this joy-filled hope and also in grief. I will shed tears of sadness that it has taken me, all us humans, so long to realize we are not at the center of all of this–and we sure have messed things up trying to be. Somehow it seems that women often find it easier to connect all the strands of these earthy dots, but it’s been very unnerving to hear our new president say he will use politics like scissors, to cut and shred many specific diverse filaments of this fragile web. How incomprehensibly ghastly. Maybe that’s why thousands of us want to show up in Washington to show how powerful we are when it comes to relationships. Nothing will stand in our way to preserve the peace and unity of our diverse Earth home. And, I know you’re with me in this – right?!
Your parents have taught you to be bold explorers and yet to tread gently on the earth. You know how to speak up for yourself, for justice and right actions for everybody, and above all I see how much you love all the God-Nature that is you.
Thank you for walking with me next Saturday. We all need your prayers that day. No doubt it will be a day to remember. I’ll be sure to tell you about it.
With all the love possible,
The sun has not yet risen and many of us have barely slept all night. We are witnesses to a seismic shift in our cultural tectonic plates and we have no idea what awaits us when the sun rises. Clearly a tsunami of change has rocked our world. This political result has overturned much of what we hold of value; like rag dolls our carefully ordered lives risk being shaken by every potential wind of change in the global aftershocks from this election. How will each of us find our way at sunrise? How do we hold true to our psychospiritual center of gravity as individuals and communities while our panicked political leaders freeze, react, and retreat from their personal injuries and perceived success?
Both grief and unbridled elation will roll in shock waves across the nation. Many will batten down the hatches inside and out and prepare for cultural war. Fear mongers will stockpile their arsenals of hate and the timid will be swept along blinded by the fury of the changing season. Clearly, it will be impossible to be a dispassionate witness in the days ahead. Like it or not, each of us is being offered the opportunity to engage wholeheartedly with whatever emerges. The lava and fires from this volcanic eruption will continue to devastate us, just as election process did, unless we find courage to take a fresh stand on the deck of our personal lives. We are being rudely pushed to be the change we desire, and at the same time feeling lost at sea, with many of our guiding lights blackened out. Where is true North?
We are clearly seeing an uncovering of the hidden sides of our humanity that our cultural selves have denied and repressed. How each of us finds our way through outrage and grief will be paramount to our healing as a nation, as a globe. Similar to what is happening out on the national stage, our egocentric selves have tried and true patterns of protection from shame, embarrassment, and the demonic hordes of anxiety that a storm such as this exposes. The good news is that each of us also has been hiding unrecognized gifts towards healing, potential for offering our uniqueness in such a time as this. As with any emergency, let us trust that the best in us will also arise.
There is no ‘one way’ answer this morning, but without a shadow of doubt, I offer that we still have all that we need despite our unhinged political world. Let each of us stop, look, and listen to the shift of awareness taking place inside ourselves. Maybe we personally need some lame-duck time before we rush out in response to rebuild. Maybe we need time in the cocoon of winter, to melt the bones of our old ideas and find a fresh dream that comes from the soul of this land, from the heart of our collective nature as human beings, from the core of Mystery.
A few words from Rilke arise this morning from his Book of Hours, II 1
You are not surprised at the force of the storm—
you have seen it growing…
… You thought you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit:
now it becomes a riddle again
and you again a stranger.
Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.
The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.
Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.
Answering my call to be a gardener on this planet continues to offer deep satisfaction and also evokes a profound, almost unsayable struggle. As each fall season drifts by in such a splendid parade of colors, I struggle to sustain and direct my passion as an Earth cultivator and as a soul gardener. It is curious how with age, my vision evolves as my heart expands to hold a much broader circle of life. “Surely it must be time to down-size,” my body and mind tells me!
This weekend I had the privilege of serving as co-facilitator for a Courage & Renewal, ‘Journey toward Wholeness’ cohort at Pendle Hill; a newly formed community of soulful people joining together for a series of four weekend retreats. We came together from many walks of life, cultures and traditions. It could be said that in a very few hours we founded together a new plot of garden, that along with some carefully constructed raised boundaries for safety and nurture, we experienced the shy presence of a delicate yet courageous human community emerge. We shimmered together with glimpses of a rare kind of authenticity that reminds me of plantings of heirloom seeds that come from ancient depths and perennial tradition.
How curious too that we gently noticed and honored the messiness of our unattended weeds as they sprouted from the cracks of our lives. As we anticipate a rich year ahead of sowing, planting, and harvesting the diverse and abundant seeds of our lives, just below the surface of this freshly created beauty, some niggling questions stir within me. This morning they ask to be pitch-forked from my recesses, turned-over in the open air, left to scatter, to possibly season and ripen in our courageous community.
What does my inner garden look like?
What kind of a gardener are you?
What shape of human community does your soul long to live, work, and love from?
Do you yearn for the ordered grace of a classic French fountain garden with wise sculptures hiding between neatly trimmed box-wood, or do you relish the freedom and antiquity of a stone-walls and flowing borders of English country garden charm? Am I the gardener who longs to sweep away everything, to return to elemental basics and re-create community as a serene Zen-garden—honoring sand, stone, and one contorted pine tree?
It is clear that at times, all my soul wants to do is to root around in the dirt of an organic, edible garden, laden with knobby gourds and fat beans. Maybe – if you are anything like me, all of these have certain appeal. How complicating! How do you nurture your inner diversity, your paradoxical longings? In my many roles as gardener, each form and structure of human and other-than-human community calls to be worked out boldly, yet in harmony from the essence of my being. With age, I am thankfully learning to relish the struggle with this complex differentiation. How about you?
From what aspect of your inner soul garden do you live and work from?
In this fall season of harvest, how do you sort, save, or throw away the color-filled seeds of your tradition, education, experience, culture, and class?
What weed seeds am I unconsciously throwing around or stirring up as I eagerly plow into the next project of my life?
And then, consider a series of troubling questions for us ‘modern’ people:
Who makes the decision what a ‘weed’ seed is?
What native plantings cry to be left alone- to thrive, to come to fruition in all their rich wildness?
What mysterious entangled vines are climbing into the periphery of our fertile attention?
What native sweet-grasses plead for cultivation?
Let’s join the conversation to think about these questions as we network in community. We long to continue our work with more sustainability, to be change-agents in the world, and we have so many diverse ways and means of tending and growing a soulful harvest.
I have had the privilege of being able to cross and re-cross many cultural borders in my life-time, and am ever more certain that I often miss this core sense of living from my indigenous wild and communal self – this intuitive passion, this suffering, this paradoxical pleasure of finding my way as human in such a messy life. How I long both to sustain and be sustained more consciously as a generative earth-being in global community – just one member of this circle of All of us – in a Wisdom that is so much more alive than we can ever imagine.
Outside our front-doors, away from our computers – alas, so often, far outside our circles of chairs – Earth community roars, rattles, and sings her deep wisdom to us. I wonder how each of us is being called to grow our wild garden: to tend our native flesh, our grieving land, and our One-ness in Spirit as we stop together, to look and listen to this siren call.
October 26, 2015