The Work That Reconnects Network

The Work That Reconnects Network is a vibrant global community with 120+ registered facilitators from over 15 different countries, 4,000+ friends and newsletter subscribers, and over 7,000 followers on Facebook.  

Our Vision

The Work That Reconnects Network provides support, guidance, and inspiration to people all over the world in their work for the Great Turning, in diverse communities, schools, universities, businesses, government agencies, and NGOs.

The Work That Reconnects Network functions as a vibrant living system, providing communication, education, mutual support, and collaboration in creating curricula, practices, books and articles, music, poetry, and art.

Our Mission

To design and build a network of facilitators and community members in the Work That Reconnects for optimal communication, collaboration, inspiration, and mutual support, and to contribute to the Great Turning.

To promote the Work That Reconnects in the world by building relationships in person and via social media, an interactive website, a periodic journal, and other means.

To develop a support system with funding and staff to enable the Work That Reconnects Network to fulfill its vision.

Our Values

Openness, transparency, connectivity, collaboration, inclusivity, diversity, kindness, service to the welfare of all beings of the three times and to the healing of the planet.

Network Organization

Although networks arise from the self-organization of all members, a few people have stepped up to get things going, calling ourselves the Network Weavers: Aravinda Ananda, Werner Brandt, Molly Brown, Paula Hendrick, Kathleen Rude, Emily Ryan, and Constance Washburn.

The Core Team of Weavers hold monthly online meetings to make decisions by consensus.  Other Weavers attend meetings of the Core Team when they are able, or when they want to bring up a proposal or concern. If you want to be involved in the Weavers group or the Core Team, please let us know via our Contact Form. We especially welcome international Weavers (from outside the USA).

Part-time staff “coordinators” have supported the Network for the last year and a half, starting with two in February 2018, and three since March 2019.  Silvia Di Blasio has been with us from the start, joined in March by Frieda Slavin and Jo Del Amor. 

Current Projects: 

  • Regional gatherings for facilitators and friends of the Work That Reconnects around the world, building toward a Gaian Gathering in 2020.   Read about these unfolding plans in the article above.
  • A new and improved website with greater accessibility and resources for our global network, including multilingual and international resources.
  • Educational webinars and interdisciplinary experiences for and by WTR facilitators to foster cross-pollination and collaboration. 
  • Deep Times journal, published twice a year, with articles, essays, poetry, artwork and resources to inspire and inform our Work That Reconnects global community.

Fund-raising Campaign

The Network is currently engaged in a major fund-raising campaign to support these projects, including Deep Times journal. We welcome all donations, large and small.  

Opportunities To Get Involved

We welcome volunteers experienced in the Work That Reconnects to help expand the Network and its activities. Please use the Contact Form to let us know if you want to help in these areas:

  • Coordinator of volunteers
  • Network Weaving core team
  • International Weavers
  • Network engagement – involving folks in the activity of the Network
  • Editorial team for Deep Times journal (currently full)
  • Scholarship fund development (policies, procedures, and funding)
  • Fund-raising and grant-writing to support the website, journal, scholarship fund, and other Network endeavors
  • Organizing and creating/facilitating webinars for facilitators and/or friends of the Work That Reconnects.
  • Anything else you think needs doing!

 

What Matters Now

By Minx Boren

From Poems of Hope and Poems of Despair about the state of our world. 

#1

What matters now
in these dimmer days
when gloom and doom
conversations occupy the tables
in every corner of concern?

What counts now
when countless folk
feel harried and hungry
for the richness of more
fulfilling times
when gold stars of hope
are needed to illuminate
their heavens and shine on
their wishes?

What matters and what counts
are the grit and gumption
to not give in to the sordid
all day all night
not-so-newsworthy dramas
to not reward the greed and
fiscal cleverness that have left
disaster in their wake
to not succumb
to the sin of dismay
no matter the twists and tangles
of evidence hell bent on constraining us
and detaining us from claiming
a bigger better brighter vision
for ourselves and our world.

What matters and what counts
are imagination and inspiration
a “Hail Yes!” we can attitude
and a roll up our sleeves movement
of such magnitude that the future
can hear us coming
with our heads held high
above the cloudy predictions
and our knap sacks filled with
our gumption and grit
our good will and willingness-
the building blocks of new
cornerstones of possibility.

©2019 Minx Boren. All rights reserved. May be shared with attribution.



Minx Boren,
MCC, is an ICF master certified coach as well as a published author, motivational speaker, and workshop facilitator. Minx offers workshops, classes, and webinars on many topics including the Art and Science of Flourishing, Journal-Keeping for Self-Discovery and, most recently, training to facilitate The Empowered Elder webinar series for EAN. Minx is also a longtime community leader and activist, now focusing on local Sustainable Living initiatives. More information at www.coachminx.com. 

Raised in the Shadow of the Bomb by D. Leah Steinberg

Raised in the Shadow of the Bomb: Children of the Manhattan Project, by D. Leah Steinberg, 2016: Ingram Spark

Book review by Karina Lutz

As the sciences of healing trauma and epigenetics seep into cultural awareness, deep time work, or inner work with our ancestors and descendants, takes on a new and more vibrant meaning. What if the work we do in the “seeing with new/ancient eyes” part of the spiral effects much more than our sociological imagination? What if the Work that Reconnects doesn’t just make us feel better, wipe the brows of the fighters before setting us back out in the activist ring? What if we really do “heal the past in the present moment” as Thich Nhat Hanh says, and our imagining the perspective of our ancestors and our descendants actually connects us with them, gives us more power to change the trajectory of humanity and earth?

These are just some of the questions that arose from a reading of Raised in the Shadow of the Bomb: Children of the Manhattan Project, an informal oral history of children of the physicists and others who secretly labored to develop the atom bomb for the US during World War II. One these children, D. Leah Steinberg, interviewed others, including her siblings and cousins, about what it was like to grow up with parents—mostly fathers—who they did not know at the time were recruited or drafted to work on the bomb.

Steinberg found themes of guilt or denial about the impacts of the work  

 Across her interviews, Steinberg found themes of guilt or denial about the impacts of the work; the legacy of secrecy and living under constant surveillance (the FBI kept an eye on all of the scientists, in some cases long after the project was complete); perfectionism and the inability or ambivalence about measuring up to their parents’ brilliance, drive, or accomplishment.

Steinberg tries to communicate her own mystical or quantum non-local sense of a deeper meaning of how the scientists were connected before and after death, and their quest for understanding the secret structure of the universe, and their karma for having done so in the destructive form they did. She found that many of the scientists were much more interested in basic science and driven to crack the code of nuclear physics more than they were motivated by the war effort, although most believed they “had to” develop the nuclear bomb before the Germans did.

Denial, it appears, does not insulate children from the truth.

Many were drafted into the project against their will, others felt they had no choice. Many were against the use of the atom bomb against the Japanese, as the Germans had surrendered. Several of the scientists formed the Federation of Atomic Scientists to try to steer policy against nuclear armament, and many of their children took up that mantle, even, in many cases, not knowing the extent of their parents’ involvement in the Manhattan Project or their resistance to the use of the bomb. Denial, it appears, does not insulate children from the truth. As the book’s epigram reminds us, “Your children shall know your fruits” (Virgil).

Oppenheimer said, ‘The physicists have known sin, and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.’

“The secrecy carried over after the war,” Steinberg quotes descendent Wendy Walin. “We were trained in denial….[T]here’s an awareness that there is this terrible thing in the world and, if we have contributed to it, all we can do is to do something to remedy it.” Steinberg responded, “Oppenheimer said, ‘The physicists have known sin, and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.’ I believe those ideas carried over to many people: the scientists, their families to some degree, and the rest of the world as well. For some reason, I took on the guilt and it propelled me to this project of my own. ….What are the karmic lessons, what am I supposed to be learning?” 

Kristi Grove spoke of her father, John Hite Grove: “I think the fact that they thought he was going to give away secrets destroyed him inside. I believe it created such a deep wound; that’s why he never talked about that aspect of it.” Yet the daughters (more than the sons, in this sample) are willing to talk about the project, its horrors and wounds, including those carried by the weapons designers and their families and communities.

‘Just keep quiet and don’t say anything more about it to anyone.’

Some of them even broke the denial pact as children. Carol Caruthers tells the story of speaking up during a “duck and cover” drill. She told her teacher “with great confidence, ‘Getting under the stairwell won’t protect us from a nuclear bomb.’ She told me to be quiet, that I was scaring everyone half to death. …[W]hen I told my dad what I had said, he told me, ‘Just keep quiet and don’t say anything more about it to anyone.’” 

How much energy must it have taken for the whole culture to repress so much fear, and to this day? How much honoring of our pain is needed to redeem those repressed fears and truths? And how much energy for change might be released in the process—might it be like unlocking the bonds of the atom, but of our spirits, our capacity for change?


Karina Lutz is a writer, editor, teacher, and lifelong activist. She helped secure passage of sustainable energy legislation, thwart a proposed megaport, and restore wetlands in her home watershed of Narragansett Bay, RI. In 2013, she received honorable mention from Homebound Publications Poetry Prize for her manuscript, Preliminary Visionswww.yogaforpeace.massageplanet.com

Think Resiliency and Winona LaDuke’s “The Seventh Fire”

Resource review by Martha O’Hehir

‘Think Resiliency’ is a program of Post Carbon Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the world transition away from fossil fuels and build sustainable, resilient communities.  https://www.resilience.org

Every day, I may be uplifted, encouraged, and challenged by articles published by resilience.org through a weekly or daily digest. I receive word of world-wide creativity and the stories of prophetic people who are responding to climate and fossil fuel based collapse with solution-oriented projects that are re-teaching us how to live on this planet. 

This morning, my growing suspicion that we cannot live without the forgiveness and wisdom of those who were native to the bioregions of the earth, was affirmed through the gracious and bold testimony of Winona LaDuke in her article, “The Seventh Fire.” <https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-07-18/uncertain-future-forum-winona-laduke-essay/>

The web site also offers Richard Heinberg’s online course called “Think Resiliency,” and since taking it, my life has not been the same. The first half of the course explained how we got to where we are on this planet, and it did so historically, compassionately, and matter-of-factly. This was not about blame so much as an evolutionary history. The second part is a call to evolve away from our previous choices and toward what is regenerative. He may have been the first to articulate what Deep Adaptation might look like. https://education.resilience.org/

This perspective is very useful for calming the paralyzing terror and uprooting the powerlessness we sometimes feel over the magnitude of planetary crises. It reaffirms Joanna’s story from Buddhist traditions: “What humankind has done, humankind can undo.”

I highly recommend this site for seeing with new eyes and finding our call in going forth. Even if it is too late, we do what we can, we act on every opportunity to which we are called,  and we celebrate each other’s efforts, going forth.


Martha O’Hehir is an educator and writer and has served as an editor or contributing editor for several publications, including The Deep Times JournalThe Music Practitioner, The Orff Echo, and Reverberations. She wrote curriculums for elementary music and math, high school religious studies, and music improvisation for adult healing musicians. She is a facilitator of the Work That Reconnects and gives retreats and workshops connecting the Great Turning with the spirituality of Teilhard de Chardin. Ordained to interfaith ministry as an Eco-Chaplain in 2017, Martha aspires to nurture growth in consciousness and to promote Earth stewardship as an act of spirituality, through her writing, music, and spiritual direction.

Holding a Council Of All Beings, Behind Bars

by Jo Bauen 

On January 17, 2019, I returned to work to visit and hold circle with the 18 incarcerated men in my class at San Francisco County Jail #5. I had been away for a month and both the schedule and jail location had changed. Still, I contacted Francisco, my volunteer extraordinaire, and he agreed to join me in the new place at the new time.

These men will spend an average of two years in jail, and during that time they can never go outside, or see the sky.

Francisco had also been away, in Tanzania, on a safari. He’d brought photos he’d taken of the wildlife. “Do you think I can bring them in?” Francisco asked. I said yes, thinking they could be justified as harmless, restorative, and related to my curriculum. Once inside, we arranged the 50- photos around the circle’s centerpiece. The men entered the room and quietly walked the circle, asking permission to handle the photos. I noted that the men’s attention was focused, and they were extra appreciative of the color photos against the drab, windowless jail. These men will spend an average of two years in jail, and during that time they can never go outside, or see the sky. 

The guys began asking questions. Francisco described his trip, and what it meant to him to see the animals. The men were rapt. Our circle that afternoon focused on the web of life, and all the while, the men held Francisco’s photos in their hands. We wove wildlife and nature into our entire 2-hour circle. The men spoke longingly of fresh air, clouds, animals, and their desire to live in the wild, rather than jail. Someone said he would live in the wilderness even if it meant death, “Because life without nature is not life.” 

The men asked Francisco for a copy of their favorite animal photograph. We made a formal request to the appropriate jail authorities in order to give wildlife photos to the inmates. 

January 24 

As we passed the talking piece, we considered how each of these animals could bring power and solace to our lives.

While waiting for permission to bring the photos in, I continued to hold circle with a focus on animals, nature, and the notion of restoring our bond to mother earth. We discussed how in many native American traditions, people are given or choose an animal as a power animal or spirit guide. As we passed the talking piece, we considered how each of these animals could bring power and solace to our lives. I had made copies of brief descriptions of animals as power animals, and the men read these with interest.

January 31

I shared with Francisco that I was stumped as to how we would encourage the men to best embrace their connection to their chosen animals. Francisco responded, “You know Jo, we could do the Council of All Beings.” 

“Of course”, I floundered. Why hadn’t I thought of this? Joanna’s Council of All Beings is an exercise that involves participants choosing an animal, and speaking for and through that creature in a council setting. It brings out a groups’ best thinking on how to engage in solving both social and environmental crises.

I called to tell Joanna we were using her exercise, and to invite her to attend the council—which I scheduled for next month. She replied, “Jo, I’m coming to join you!” We planned for a date in March.

February 14

To my amazement, permission was granted to share Francisco’s photos, and after just four weeks of waiting, the day came to bring the photos in officially. We entered the pod, nodding and waving to our equally eager participants. I checked in with the deputy and she raised her microphone, about to announce our class. Then an overhead light flickered. Briefly. Once. Phones began ringing, and walkie-talkies sputtered static. All programs were immediately cancelled, due to the possibility of a power outage. Our class was cancelled, so I asked permission to share the sanctioned wildlife photos with the inmates at their cell doors. The Deputy approved.

Francisco and I walked from cell to cell, checking in on each of our 18 participants. The men were pacing behind heavy glass barriers that create their outer cell wall. They appeared calm, but perturbed by the lock-down that prevented us from having class. They appreciated our one-to-one visits, and seemed to cherish the photos. 

After the cell visits, Francisco and I went to check out with the deputy. A co-worker had joined her, and they both peeked at the leftover photos in Francisco’s hands. The deputy said, “Oh, yeah, I saw those. We had to review them for clearance. They are cool. I really like the tortoise.” 

Her co-worker said, “For me it is the giraffe. I just love giraffes, and have you seen the way that jaguar can take one down? That’s amazing.” Soon they were pouring over the photos, and Francisco asked if they’d like copies. 

Both jailer and jailed need connection with what is wild and connection with the planet.

“YES!” both replied.

So there it was: both jailer and jailed need connection with what is wild and connection with the planet. All of us suffer from the human-dominated, command and control worldview.   All of us need to re-invent our humanity, our world, and our definition of justice. 

March 14, 2019

Francisco and I picked up Joanna for the drive to San Bruno. We estimated that the 20-mile drive would take 90 minutes, and it did. Joanna was ready for the day: proper clothing, nothing in her hands, heart and soul present.

I introduced Joanna as an ‘Eco-philosopher,’ environmental activist, and Buddhist scholar. I explained that Joanna’s work makes room for grief; we can’t fully know joy without fully knowing grief. I shared that Joanna sees the earth as sacred; her environmental activism is guided by her spiritual view of life; her work fully embraces the Web of Life. Everyone clapped and thanked Joanna for coming.

Next I introduced the group of incarcerated men as my colleagues, my teachers, and my brothers, and I passed the talking piece, inviting the circle to check in. Francisco, Joanna and I listened and responded with empathy.

Beginning Joanna’s protocol for the Council of All Beings, I introduced the concepts of deep ecology and deep time, stopping to allow participants to ask questions, and for Joanna to share her thoughts. Deep Ecology states that reality is not made up of isolated, random bits, but rather, that each being is part of, and essential to the interconnected whole. I proposed that to embrace the web of life is a radically different way of living; if we really are part of the web, we must care for each other and for the planet. 

Deep time is the idea that time is not simply linear, moving in one direction from past to future, with us in the ‘now.’ Modern society values speed, and devalues slowing down. This cuts us off from our ability to use our senses, and to develop creativity. We look at rocks, hills, mountains as just rocks, and fail to see that everything is in motion, if you slow down. Deep time allows us to invoke our ancestors, to invoke our future: to shape our legacy over time. “

We could say some people ‘do time,’ and others ‘do deep time.’ 

Noticing the potential for metaphor, I added, “We say some people ‘just do time,’ while others make the most of their incarceration, reaching into themselves, their past, and their future.” I suggested, “We could say some people ‘do time,’ and others ‘do deep time.’”

A Council of All Beings

Finally, I announced, as planned, we would transition away from two-legged existence, and welcome the animals each man had been studying. I established myself as the human circle keeper, and I would be a circle keeper as coyote, too. Mick offered to drum on his plastic chair, and I invited movement and sound to represent the animals. Nico, as owl, jumped on a chair and began rapping. Brandon scurried around gathering items like a squirrel. Paul slumped in his chair, playing dead like a possum. 

After a few minutes, I welcomed the animals to sit in circle. I opened with a question. “Please introduce your animal and its sound and/or movement, and its characteristics.” I demonstrated, “I am coyote; I travel by night. I am a trickster and a rule-breaker.” I howled! Then, passing the talking piece around the circle, we heard each animal’s sound, its qualities and attributes: the hunters (wolf, lion, alligator), those with night vision (panther, owl), the leaders (antelope, bear) and the uncommonly generous (turkey). Addressing those who had not yet spoken, Joanna added the prompt, “What do you love about being this animal?” Snake and butterfly spoke of the skill of transformation. Crow expressed his desire to step outside of human law, to bring peace. 

Next I asked for volunteers to represent humans, to sit in the center of the circle and not speak, noting that this could be a difficult task and no one needed to stay longer than they wished. Two men volunteered, and as they tired of the post, they asked for replacements. I invited the animal participants to explain to the humans, “How do you see life on earth at the present time? What are the issues/problems/opportunities?” We heard about pollution of the environment, scarcity of wild lands, violence, and human greed dominating the world.

As a final round I asked, “What are the gifts/skills we can pass on to the two-legged?” Turtle offered patience, and told humans to take their time. 

Pig said, “See me for who I am, don’t misunderstand me.” 

Possum suggested to humans, “Learn to play the game.” 

Buffalo said, “Prayer.”

“Legalize freedom,” said Eagle.

“Stop seeing humans as superior,” demanded alligator, “Don’t gentrify the wild!” 

“Remember to play!” shrieked dolphin.

“You humans are experiencing a chemical imbalance!” said Owl.

“Leave us alone,” growled Wolf.

Lion reminded us, “Enjoy the sensuality of gender.” 

“Stop worrying,” said Jaguar.

“Get rid of government,” offered Orca Whale.

“Get thicker skin,” said Snake.

“Utilize your gifts,” pronounced Buffalo.

Finally as our circle time ended, Mick drummed us back into our human form. We shed our animal skins, and we passed the talking piece again, performing our check-out round and thanking Joanna for the exercise. During the check-out, someone said, “We really are responsible for the planet, and we should take action.” 

Someone else said, “This helps me appreciate life and demonstrates everyone can be selfless.” 

Another man said, “We are connected.” 

And another spoke, “We have wisdom.”

Check-in from Joanna Macy

Curtains Closing

Last fall, shortly after reading the most recent IPCC report, I was on retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, engaged in walking meditation.  At one point my mind was stuck on an old memory–some minor embarrassment, and no mindful “noting” loosened its grip. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “I should know how to handle this.” At that very moment, a strong voice came to me and thundered, “Just fall in love with what is!”  As I heard these words, I saw two curtains closing:

Just fall in love with what is!

One was the IPCC report with its urgent orders to shrink our greenhouse gas emissions. The other was the election of Bolsonaro in Brazil, with his promised razing of the Amazon rainforest, dooming all hopes of carbon reduction.  I stood immobilized, as if turned to stone, my whole body deadened by the eclipse of a livable future. And yet the message came, “Just fall in love with what is”–a clear call for acceptance.

What Happened to the Great Turning?

In the 1990s a name emerged for the purposeful and Earth-based solidarity we were experiencing and for the promise it carried–the Great Turning. The term soon came to signify the transition underway to a life-sustaining society–a transition as real and as pervasive as the Great Unraveling brought by the industrial growth society. While the Great Turning takes form in specific actions and achievements, it essentially lives within us as vision and commitment. In that sense it reminds me of the Buddhist notion of bodhicitta, devotion to the welfare of all, often portrayed as a flame in the heart. 

Breakdown now appears inevitable

I think many of us assumed that we could achieve a life-sustaining society without the collapse of our current global economy. But given the depth and breadth of destruction being wrought by state and transnational corporations, breakdown now appears inevitable. It is also to some degree necessary for the emergence of a life-sustaining society, and that for two reasons: 1) we are still in the grip of the industrial growth society; and 2) so long as its corporations automatically privilege profit, and continue to hold the overarching political power they have today, our capacity to lay the foundations of a life-sustaining society is very limited. So the Great Turning will be more important to us than ever, not only as a light at the end of the tunnel, but also as lens and compass to discern our way. In addition, the Great Turning brings skills and tools for nourishing our spirit, our ingenuity, and determination. 

While We Still Can Meet

We can start right away while we still can easily communicate and work together. What we do now in our neighborhood as well as in wider “rough weather networks” strengthens our capacities, which will be ever more valuable as the consumer society falters and fails. Everything we learn from the self-organizing and adaptive nature of Gaia will serve to guide and steady us. To help us grasp the beauty and relevance of Gaian laws, it is our great good fortune that we are beginning to listen to indigenous voices as they share, despite genocide and betrayal, their millennia-old Earth wisdom traditions.   

Rediscovering Our Belonging

We belong to the living body of Earth and nothing can ever separate us. 

Being fully present to fear, to gratitude, to all that is, we rediscover that we belong.  We can develop a practice of mutual belonging and find ways to remember, celebrate, and affirm this deep knowing of our inter-existence.  We belong to each other. We belong to the living body of Earth and nothing can ever separate us. We are already home.  The practice of mutual belonging is the medicine for the sickness of the self-isolated ego, and will accompany us through the hard times upon us.

The field of belonging is rooted in the living body of Earth, in the flows of time and relationship that form our bodies and communities, our land and climate.  Let us bring these flows into our awareness so they inform each choice we make, all of us bodhisattvas in the Jeweled Net of Indra.*


© by Carolyn Treadway

*”Indra’s Net is a beautiful vision of the universe that arose out of Mahayana Buddhism. The imagery is of a huge net where at every node is a jewel, and each jewel reflects the other jewels and catches the reflections back and forth. The other jewels represent other beings in a kind of tapestry of the universe.”  (Joanna Macy in Yoga International interview.) 

 


Joanna Macy, is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. A respected voice in the movements for peace, justice, and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with five decades of activism. As the root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, she has created a groundbreaking theoretical framework for personal and social change, as well as a powerful workshop methodology for its application. Her wide-ranging work addresses psychological and spiritual issues of the nuclear age, the cultivation of ecological awareness, and the fruitful resonance between Buddhist thought and contemporary science, explored through her books, audio-visual resources, and teachings on the Great Turning. 

As the Climate Collapses, We Ask: “How Then Shall We Live?”

This commentary is the first of our series, “How, Then, Shall We Live?: Finding Our Way Amidst Global Collapse.” It is about the moonlight leaking between the roof planks of this ruined house.

It is not written to convince anyone of anything, or to get things back on track. It is not a survival manual. What we have to say is not written on the wavelength of fear.

Dahr has been on the front lines digging out the truth around climate disruption for nine years. Before that, he spent more than a year in Iraq reporting, unembedded, on how the US occupation of that country was impacting the Iraqi people. He has, more recently, had to digest staggering climate information ahead of the wave of the general public, fielding in himself a cavalcade of disbelief, grief, anger, hopelessness and desperation. He thus describes this commentary as “the inevitable conclusion of all my war, political, environmental and climate reportage.”

For 20 years Barbara’s work and writing has guided people through life-changing transitions, with an ear to a deeper sense of purpose and meaning behind chapters of life that are ending. Her understanding of what it takes to change, in fundamental ways, has been a setup for the mega transition necessary for us all as the world we have counted on dissolves.

What we have to share is written on a carrier wave of love for what we cherish.

What we have to share is written on a carrier wave of love for what we cherish. That love, moving outwards into the world through us, is the moonlight. What we write here is for those with the kamikaze courage to take in the facts of intensifying climate chaos, growing economic inequality, crashing biodiversity, growing fascism, a global debt bubble and extinction scenarios that are already coming through the front door. It is for those who are feeling the implications of these in the pit of our stomachs, even before the radical changes needed in our personal and collective lives dawn fully into awareness.

It is for those who, given all that is collapsing, are risking treasured images of the future, and venturing into conversations about adaptation rather than just mitigation. It is for those who are tiptoeing into the unthinkable with a question on their lips: “How then shall we live?” Or maybe more pointedly, “How then shall I live?”

Finding ways to take action, even in the smallest ways, staves off depression and cynicism.

We may (or may not) be a step or two ahead of you, down the path of accepting the likely demise of the biosphere, which exposes the lie of invincibility of Western civilization. We have learned that finding ways to take action, even in the smallest ways, staves off depression and cynicism.

Dahr, for example, in addition to using his work to spread awareness of the crisis, lives in a solar-powered house and works to reduce his carbon footprint annually. We created a garden together, which provides most of our food. Additionally, we are both committed to supporting younger generations through apprenticeships on the land we share, as well as by holding retreats for young leaders interested in personal sustainability and leadership in uncertain times.

Our intent with this series is not to rehash data, but to share the ways we are digesting the global decline and finding solid ground in ourselves and within our day-to-day lives. We hope that our thinking and choices will inspire readers to ponder what is uniquely theirs to do. The depth of our global crisis requires a new understanding of what hope means. At the end of each piece, we will include annotated reference material that informs our own perception in reliable and expansive ways.

Our pathway to acceptance of current reality crosses serial thresholds that involve shifts in mindsets and emotional black holes. We recognize these now as gateways into open-ended, unprecedented healing and generative inquiry. This interior work sits alongside the crucial exterior work of building bomb-proof relationships that sustain us in these times, supportive and practical close community, local resilience, and worthy action.

Each person hits thresholds particular to their culture of origin, family history, exposure to trauma, age, family makeup, religious frameworks, location and more. It is our hope that the terrain of our own deep questioning supports your unique pathway. In each reflection, we will describe some of the practices we have stumbled on that pave the way for an honorable, fulfilling future and even contentment — another beam of the moonlight seeping through the cracks.

We have co-authored this series because it is almost impossible to take in the immensity of this moment on one’s own.

Endings

We confront, on a daily basis, things that are over. Sheaths of endings fall away leaving a broken heart, time and time again. Many people in the world are already facing the finality of guarantees of clean water, consistently breathable air, food that is safe and healthy to eat, permanence of a physical home, financial security, the viability of going to college, giraffes, bees, and on and on.

Patty Stringer hugs her neighbor of 20 years, Dee Johnson, as she says her final goodbyes at Johnson’s home in Magalia, California on December 3, 2018. (Photo by Mason Trinca for the Washington Post via Getty Images)

For example, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre has estimated that 1.68 million Americans were internally displaced by disasters in 2017, and a study carried out by the University of Georgia predicts sea-level rise alone could displace as many as 13 million Americans by the year 2100.

Closer in, the winds of change are blowing through our relationships, work and homes that make many of these no longer viable. We all know there are already many locations on the planet that have already been rendered unlivable by climate change impacts, toxic spills or industry. Fundamental assumptions about family and child-rearing are shaking.

Maybe it’s simply the trees being blown bare in autumn that lands as sadness in you. Most endings dip us into the well of grief. When we drop into that well, the seemingly distinct sources of grief are mixed in the depths.

There is a second kind of grief that engulfs us in the moments when we really understand what we as humans have done. Questions about how we shall live going forward inherently require honest confrontation with “How have we lived?”

All of our greed and complicity land like a death sentence.

How did we get here, completely divorced from the web of life, in utter violation of the balance and reciprocity that is natural to all forms of life, and ending with many of us behaving violently toward one another? What has been my part in this, in my thinking and in the lifestyles I have taken for granted? The plug has been pulled on growth and progress myths. Abuse of the Earth and of those who have lived in harmony with Her is laid bare. All of our greed and complicity land like a death sentence. This grief and remorse are enormous.

Simple practices can prepare us for the more sweeping endings that lie in wait. We can develop needed resilience by working incrementally and deliberately with the succession of losses that are presently occurring in our lives. We suggest systematically noting and naming the things that are ending in your life. One strategy is to keep a private, uncensored journal, and pour our hearts out as waves of realization and sorrow crash over us.

Pay attention to the personal and micro endings that are eroding our sense of control and promise. Keep asking, “What is ending?” “What is over?” whether it be cherished beliefs, comforts we have taken for granted, images of the future for our children and our grandchildren, or something else. Maybe it is our youth slipping away, or our health, or the loss of some person or animal who is close to us. With courageous and astute naming comes the broken heart. Keep breathing.

A beautiful bowl carefully placed in your home can be designated as a guardian of seasons and cycles that are phasing out. Visit the vessel as often as you need to, holding it dear, feeling life’s support for your tenderness.

With the help of our young friends, Colin and Maura, we built a forest altar in the dark cedar wood near our garden — an old hollowed-out stump opens to receive bits of feathers, stone, lavender, dreams, ashes from burnt sage, names of friends who are troubled and tears that are quietly placed in the hollowed-out core for life’s safe-keeping. We visit the forest altar when the intractability of life’s challenges becomes unbearable.

We have also called together a safe circle of friends who hold matters of the heart, impossible questions and personal quandaries about just action.

The depth of our grief is the measure of our love; its flip side is praise for all we hold sacred.

The depth of our grief is the measure of our love; its flip side is praise for all we hold sacred, bathed in the moonlight. Every night before dinner, each one at our table says one thing they are thankful for and one way they have served the Earth that day. We never fail to drop into the world of what is most precious to us. Indeed, in the course of loss, what we cherish most becomes most vivid. These are all ways we invite the moonlight to “leak between the roof planks.”

On the backside of grief, with the heart sponged out and open, we are able to think more clearly. There are things to do, now, in this window of time that require clear and fresh thought.

Forthcoming commentaries will include topics such as: how to find solid ground in a wash of chronic uncertainty, how to maintain a healthy relationship with the news (how to metabolize all that we read and learn), activism in the context of collapsing systems (what is the most leveraged work to be done and why), and how to raise and educate children in preparation for the world they are inheriting, among others.

The Long View

The bones of this piece are the product of a conversation between us that started two years ago that has been ongoing day by day as we edit, read and write the news.

We wrote this while on an offline media fast — no screens for five days — in Washington State on the seam of the stormy Pacific Coast and a thick, green rainforest. We had time to read and write in journals, and just stare at the ocean and listen from the inside out. We made space for connection to the roiling seas, moss-laden trees, original thought and the upwelling of the moonlight from within.

We were called to follow signs that directed us to the world’s largest Sitka spruce and the world’s largest Douglas Fir and the world’s largest red cedar. Every encounter was breathtaking and served to put our global conundrum into perspective. We spoke in whispered tones, in the presence of ancestors over 1,000 years old that grew, in turn, out of their ancestral roots.

Nurse log © Photo by Carolyn Treadway

Strewn on the ground were fallen great ones, slowly composting in the rain. Scientists tell us that the years it takes to decompose equals the standing life of the tree. These trees are hardly dead. In fact they are called “nurse logs,” as their rich soils and fungal growth provide nourishment for many species beyond their own seed. Salal and huckleberry, young cedar trees, firs, hemlock, spruce, large leaf maple, and a myriad of other species thrive, their roots reaching into the richness of the fallen mother tree.

As she decomposes, the other life forms grow tall. Some of these offshoots may themselves live to be 1,000 years old, and then lay down to birth yet another generation. The nursing phase of these giants was at the end of their life instead of at their young prime. Maybe this has something to say to us about the value of true elders during this time (more on this topic forthcoming).

There is much we simply don’t know about the continuity of life. 

There is much we simply don’t know about the continuity of life. Perhaps the wisdom we need most is already right before our eyes in the awesome wonder of the natural world, and all we need to do is open ourselves to it.

 


Annotated references:

  • A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Zinn’s history is a more accurate account of US history than is commonly taught in our schools.
  • The Big Picture by Richard Heinberg. Heinberg’ sweeping analysis of our current situation, its roots and our resistance to take it in are masterful and easily digested in this article. His own life is filled with the moonlight that leaks in, suggesting ways to live more sustainably.
  • The Smell of Rain on Dust by Martin Prechetel. This Native view of grief helps us welcome the inevitable and necessary plunges into these depths.
  • Dahr Jamail’s “Climate Disruption Dispatches.” Jamail’s regular updates on the science of climate change are reliable sources of scientific truth.

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption (The New Press, 2019), The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan(Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq(Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Izzy Award and the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards. His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in Washington State.

Barbara Cecil is the author of the book Coming Into Your Own: A Woman’s Guide Through Life Transitions. The book is a roadmap through life’s thresholds. It is woven with stories from women around the globe who are shifting into meaningful lives that meet the needs of the world and express their unique gifts in the stage of life they are in. Cecil’s decades of work as an organizational change consultant serve as the foundation of her thriving coaching practice. She was an associate dean in the School of Humanities at California State University, Long Beach. She served for 10 years as CEO of the America-Soviet Film Initiative, an organization that worked to breakthrough the media propaganda machines on both sides that fueled the Cold War.

The End of Ice, by Dahr Jamail

The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption
By Dahr Jamail

Book Review by Carolyn Treadway

From the incredible opening sentences–which describe the author dangling in a glacial crevasse with his life at risk—to the final evocative sentence of the text, The End of Ice is a gripping and powerful book. Reading it, I was spell bound. Even though I did not want to know all the terrifying descriptions of what is happening to Earth, our only home, I could not close this book. At times I stopped to feel my emotions; nonetheless I kept on reading. All the while I marveled at Dahr Jamail’s courage, clarity, tenacity, stamina, and love that allowed him to “sustain his gaze”, do research across the planet, and bring back his experiences and wisdom to help us learn so many truths that we need to know.

This is a thoroughly researched, exceptionally informative book. It’s all there: a staggering amount of detailed and very specific information about what is happening to our planet as ice, snow, and glaciers melt; as sea levels rise and oceans grow warmer and more acidic; as our forests are stressed and dying from heat, drought, and insects; as the Amazon rainforest increasingly emits (rather than sequesters) C02; as permafrost melt releases vast quantities of methane; as the loss of biodiversity accelerates, and so on and on.

Amazingly, Dahr explains all these complex topics in very understandable terms. Through his stories, he takes us with him as he travels to Alaska, the Pribilof Islands, Palau, Guam, Australia, the Amazon, Greenland, and across the USA.  In these places (and others), he meets with people who live there and with top scientists who are there doing research. He joins them to learn firsthand, whether on high mountains observing glaciers or under the sea examining coral reefs. He tells their stories as well as the specific information they know. Thus we learn myriad details of climate disruption in a very personal and impactful way.

If you want data and citations of sources, you will find meticulous documentation in the book’s 260 footnotes. You will also find one of Dahr’s photos at the beginning of each of the nine chapters.

Seamlessly woven into the massive scientific information of this book, Dahr shares his own emotional and spiritual journey as he sees with his own eyes the evidence of climate disruption across our planet. It is no easy task to “sustain the gaze” at changes that could take the human race into extinction. Nor to handle the profound emotions that are evoked as this reality unfolds.

Dahr offers us his lifelong intimate connection with the mountains he so loves, his grief for what is happening to his beloved Earth, and his passion to care for it.

I deeply respect what Dahr has experienced and then shared so that we can learn. In  showing us how he finds his way, he invites to find our own. Disrespect for nature and our part in it is leading us to our own destruction. In the natural world, everything is connected to everything else. Our intimate connection with nature is crucial to our noticing these connections—to noticing what actually is happening across the planet–and caring enough to act on its behalf.  Dahr offers us his lifelong intimate connection with the mountains he so loves, his grief for what is happening to his beloved Earth, and his passion to care for it. In doing so, he evokes our own deep connections, grief, and passion—which we can use on behalf of planet Earth.

The book’s final chapter is a gem. Addressing both presence and purpose, Dahr models living life profoundly while witnessing biosphere collapse and an uncertain future. Many inspiring and surprising paragraphs deserve quotation, but I will leave readers to discover for themselves what they find most meaningful. The book ends with a crucial question for us all.

The End of Ice is a hugely informative and important book for these times. Read it, share it, digest it, and let it help guide your future.


The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption
By Dahr Jamail
ISBN 978-1-62097-234-2
New Press, New York, 2019


Dahr Jamail is an investigative journalist who has reported from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. He is now focusing on anthropogenic climate disruption and the environment. He has studied and consulted with Joanna Macy.

Dahr’s stories have been published with Truthout, Inter Press Service, Tom Dispatch, The Guardian, Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, The Huffington Post, The Nation, and The Independent, among others. He has reported for Democracy Now! and Al-Jazeera, and has appeared on the BBC, NPR, among other stations.  He has received numerous awards, including the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism, The Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and five Project Censored awards.

Carolyn Wilbur Treadway is a psychotherapist, family therapist, pastoral counselor, social worker and life coach, now retired after almost 60 years of facilitating change and growth in people’s lives.  She “speaks for Earth” however she can—as a climate leader and mentor (trained by Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project since 2007), anti-nuclear activist, program planner and presenter, writer, and photographer. Since the mid-1980s she has been part of the Work That Reconnects. With her husband Roy, she lives in Lacey, Washington. Their three children and four young grandchildren constantly fuel her motivation to preserve our precious Earth. Contact her at [email protected].

 

Through the Pain, Into Tomorrow

by Carolyn Treadway

My dear friend has spent many years
fiercely writing about the climate.
Recently, he told me straight out:
We are not going to make it.
We humans are not going to survive!

Really?
Oh. My. God!

Feeling the impact of this as reality,
I inwardly collapsed into a heap,
weeping with pain and fear
and for the beauty of our world—
infinitely precious, exquisite, vulnerable.

The change is only a few little degrees,
but it’s enough to snuff out life on Earth
as we have known it.
We aren’t paying attention.
We must change our ways before it’s too late.
But it’s already too late!
Forthcoming changes are inexorable,
Bearing down upon us right now!

I haven’t slept since my friend
unveiled this truth.
Truth I desperately do not want to hear.
I am immobilized by profound sadness
in my every cell.
I feel it in my body, my mind, my soul:
“I am the Earth
and I am dying…”

So how do I live now?
Now that I know we humans may actually cease to exist?
I have no clue…

I wait and wait,
seeking  to find my way…

For one moment, then another, then another,
I enter the crucible of my pain.
Somehow I learn to sustain my gaze.
I move s-l-o-w-l-y toward determination
and re-connection with my passion for life.

Sinking down into my inner core,
I wrap myself in its blessed quietness and strength.
At last, some answers begin to emerge:
“Live with depth, simplicity, and grace,
attuned to what really, really matters.”

But what is that?
Love.
Compassion.
Generosity.
Profound caring.
Connection to the Sacred, to Spirit.

These are my lodestones
that will be my guides
as I follow their call.


Carolyn Wilbur Treadway is a psychotherapist, family therapist, pastoral counselor, social worker and life coach, now retired after almost 60 years of facilitating change and growth in people’s lives.  She “speaks for Earth” however she can—as a climate leader and mentor (trained by Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project since 2007), anti-nuclear activist, program planner and presenter, writer, and photographer. Since the mid-1980s she has been part of the Work That Reconnects. With her husband Roy, she lives in Lacey, Washington. Their three children and four young grandchildren constantly fuel her motivation to preserve our precious Earth. Contact her at [email protected].

Harvesting the Evolutionary Gifts of Our Ancestors

by Constance Washburn

A 40-60 minute “milling” practice for gathering the gifts of our ancestors of other species and our human ancestors.  It combines two practices in Coming Back to Life: “The Evolutionary Gifts of the Animals” and “Harvesting the Gifts of the Ancestors.”

Note: Spoken directions are in regular type; directions to the facilitator are in italics.  Please use your own words whenever possible.

Opening

So honored to be here with all of you. Much gratitude to all. The intention of this practice us reconnect with our ancestors and the long lineage of evolution of life on this planet of which we are a part. Not many of us in modern western culture know our ancestors very far back. We are isolated in time from both the past and the future. If we can’t imagine back seven generations, how do we think ahead seven generations? We must be able imagine those seven generations ahead of us so that we can be the ancestors they need us to be.

This practice uses our imaginations to take us back in time through our evolutionary history. We don’t need to know all the details of our ancestry nor the science of evolution to participate fully, because we can trust our bodies. Our bodies hold all the information from all our ancestor, human and non-human. We can trust our imaginations to know just what gifts we need from our ancestors to meet this uncertain time on Planet Earth.

This exercise is based the story of human and planetary evolution as told by modern science. Science is just beginning to catch up to the indigenous wisdom and spiritual teachings worldwide that have been telling us for thousands of years that we are all one, that we are all related and that Earth is alive and she is our mother.  Science now knows these ancient truths are indeed true. If the story I relate doesn’t work for you, please substitute your own story as we go along.

We will do this practice either standing up or walking around, if that is comfortable for you. You can spread out a little bit and if at anytime you feel like sitting down, please do. We will be standing/moving for about 25 minutes.

Ready for the Journey  

(Invite everyone to stand.)

Stand with your feet hips width apart and your hands at your sides or however feels comfortable. If you are a yogi, stand in Tadasana or Mountain pose; otherwise just stand like a mountain: Feel your feet on the floor and your head reaching toward the sky. Close your eyes or lower your gaze so you can go inward into your imagination.  We are going to go on a journey together.

Take a few deep breaths and settle into your body.  (Start music to be in background if available.)   

(Open with a Poem by Rainer Marie Rilke)

We are one generation through thousands of years,
mothers and fathers shaped by children to come,
who, in their turn, will overtake them.
We are endlessly offered into life: all time is ours.

Standing Eco-Sensing

Now become aware of your body your feet, legs, torso, hands, arms, head. The weight of your bones and your flesh against the floor You are very literally the Earth Standing.

All the food you ate last is becoming your body, and it came from the Earth. You are made up of elements of the Earth that have been recycled and reused for over 4.5 billion years. All matter, atoms, molecules of hydrogen, carbon, iron of which we are made were once in trees, rocks, oceans, dinosaurs or in one of your ancestors. Rest for a moment knowing that all that is you came from the Earth. Earth is very literally our mother who gave birth to us and all life–our oldest ancestor.

As part of the living system of earth we have co-evolved with all of life. We are all related.  98% of our genes are the same as a chimpanzee and 50% the same as a bananas. We co-evolved together with all our brothers and sisters of other species.

(Have people start milling around the space)  

Notice the others on this journey with you as you mill around the space… Stop in front of another person and take their hand silently.

Now take a moment to feel the pulse at in your partner’s wrist…the ability to pump fluids around your body was evolved in the first multi-celled creatures in the primordial ocean….

You can feel the beat of each other’s hearts. The blood in your veins is pumped by the big muscle of your heart. That heart was evolved by your ancestor great grandmother worm. Gratitude to the gifts of those ancestors who developed the many miraculous systems which make our bodies work. Bow to your partner and the ancestors who gave you these gifts.

Begin milling around again and now stop and stand back to back with another person.

Feel the other person’s back against your own. Now bend a little from side to side and front to back and now twist a bit side to side. Your ability to stand up right and still be flexible is because of the ingenious design of your backbone. It is solid enough to project your nervous system yet flexible enough for you to move. This spine was designed by grandfather fish so he could swim through the ancient oceans. Turn around an bow to your partner and bow in gratitude for the gifts from grandfather fish.

 Begin milling around again and now stop and stand in front of another person and– if it is comfortable for you–put one hand on the other person’s head.  If not, then put your hands on your own head.

Feel under your hand the hard skull that protects our amazing brains.  The brains inside that have evolved from different ancestors. Our reptilian brain came from our ancestor who crawled onto dry land and survived because of the fight, flight or freeze response they evolved. Our limbic Brain is a gift from our mammalian ancestors and it allows deep pleasure and a primal sense of connection to family and tribe…. Bow to your partner and the ancestors who provided you with your amazing brains.

Begin milling around again and now stop and stand in front of another person and take their hands.  

Feel and look at this hand and wonder at all that it can do…. It is the only thing like it in the whole universe. These hand evolved with our ancestors who lived in trees so they could grab the branches.  Put your thumb and forefinger together and that space is just the right size for a branch that will hold your weight. Gratitude for the gift of hands.

Begin milling again and come into a circle.

Now imagine climbing down out of the trees and standing on two feet. Look around. You are now standing with your first human ancestors. A very small band of humans from which we are all descended.  There is an unbroken lineage of grandmothers and grandfathers back through time whose lives have made your life possible.

Gathering the Gifts

Imagine you are standing as one of the first human ancestor standing upright at the edge of the forest and looking out over the plains of or the savanna.  What is stirring in her to push her out into the unknown without the protection of fur, fangs or claws to go out naked to explore the world…. She has only her brothers and sisters, her friends and family.

Now everyone turn to the right and we will move slowly in a circle to gather the gifts of our human ancestors.

Use your amazing hands to gather the gifts of these ancestors as you begin the journey forward through time with them.  Walk out of Africa and stay with them as they travel vast distances over land and sea to most every corner of this Earth….Some of this band stayed in Africa and learned to live in community on that continent, others crossed deserts and rivers, through forests and meadows, over glaciers,….. And reached Asia, Europe, North America, South American, Australia, Polyannesa and many other islands.   

They withstand floods and storms,… encounters with wild animals….Perhaps they were welcomed into a new community or perhaps they were driven away.  

Gather the gifts that helped them survive…..curiosity…bravery, ingenuity and determination, ……gifts of observation and leadership,  understanding and compassion, caretaking of the young and the sick…..endurance. Gifts of the hunter, and the healer.

And gather the gifts of those ancestors who stayed in one place and nurtured it and learned its ways, its animals and plants,  ….. gather the gifts of medicine and nurturing. Gifts of storytelling, deep listening, and community building so essential for survival….

Gather the gifts of our ancestors, the makers…. of those who made tools and fire and wove cloth…. Gather the gifts of the love of beauty and creativity of the art makers, singers, and dancers. Gather the gifts of the Wisdom keepers, the shamans, the elders, the midwives, historians….

Now we are coming into the age when some of our ancestors began to settle down in one place, to plant crops, domesticate animals and accumulate surpluses….build large communities, walls and temples… trade goods and travel again.  Walk with these ancestors…. as some were landless and some controlled the land… and gather the gifts of how to grow food, raise animals, and organize communities…

Gather the strength of those who built the monuments with their bodies and the genius of those who designed them.  Also gather the gifts that kept your people alive through wars and famine, through the rise and fall of many empires….  the powers to nurture, heal and help with births, and the ability to fight and kill and die to protect your family or to survive.

Walk with your ancestors who were at times the conquerors and other times the conquered, at the times the slave owners and at times the enslaved…. at times the oppressed and at times the oppressor…… Gather the gifts they all developed to survive. ….The ability to bear great sorrow and loss, the gift to inspire and lead. The gift of laughter,  The gift of strategic thinking and planning…

Now we are coming into the industrial era, the age of the machine …… For some of our ancestors it was a time of great discoveries and the building of wealth….. for others is was a time of misery toiling in factories or being forced off ancestral lands…. What were the gifts from your ancestors… those who just survived and those who thrived?.… the knowledge of how greed and fear can warp the mind, the gifts of sacred ways, the ability to love in the face of evil….   

It was also a time of invention and growth in knowledge in medicine and science…. It also was a time of forgetting ancient knowledge and wisdom.  Gather the gifts of your ancestors who fought to protect the land and those who fought for those in power …. Hard work, the gifts of the dreamers, adventurers, or stability.

Now we are coming into the generations whose names we might know. Some traveled great distances leaving homes and family to start new lives in new lands. Some stayed on the lands of their ancestors and some became homeless…. Some were forced off their homelands…….Some fought for the rights of others and some fought for the powerful and some hid and protected their knowledge and gifts. Gather the gifts that allowed them all to carry on their line so you could be here today…….gifts of responsibility, fortitude, resolve, creativity, daring, deep knowing of plants and animals, ingenuity, and morality……

 Step into the lives of your grandparents…. They may be gone or they may be living where they lived for generations fighting to protect their lands and water or they may have traveled huge distance to new lands for a better life for their children. Harvest the gifts they had that are now in you…

Now step into the lives of your birth parents, the girl and boy who will be your birth mother and father. Harvest any gifts that they might have and bring them with you to your birth.

Now step into your own life and your body and spirit which carry the gifts of your ancestors which are in you and all around you. Take a moment to harvest the gifts of your own life, your growing up time, your caregivers and teachers, your resilience, your intelligence and creativity, your determination and your deep desire for the healing of our world. These evolved through the positive and challenging experiences of your life.

Passing on the Gifts to future generations

Stop and find a place in the circle.

We all stand together as our first ancestor stood looking out into the unknown, into a future which is very uncertain. We face wars, extinction of species, climate crisis, oppression, and diseases. We also face opportunities for great change, liberation, unity, and love.   

Open your eyes slowly and look around. We don’t know what lies ahead but we go forward to face it together and we go bearing the gifts of our ancestors.

Stretch out your arms and hands in front of you as you are holding the gifts of your all your ancestors.  We are passing these gifts along to the future generations. Imagine in front of you your children or your neighbor’s children, then imagine in front of them the grandchildren, and their children, and their children. Generation upon generation of descendants carrying the gifts we have brought forward from our ancestors.

Turn to a neighbor and take their hand if that feels comfortable to you, find a place to sit down and tell them just one of the gifts you received from your ancestors. Or, if time allows, you can have each person share their experience for 5 minutes each. Then come back together with the whole group to share some learnings all together.

Notes  

  • It takes about 30 minutes to go all the way through, with very few pauses.
  • This can be done standing in one place as a standing meditation or can be done seated in an auditorium. If standing, give people the option of sitting down, if standing is not comfortable. 
  • If people are seated, change instructions to have them feel their own pulse, backbone, head, etc.

Constance Washburn, MA, activist, educator, director and facilitator,  a student of the Work That Reconnects Since 1994: she has attended many intensives with Joanna Macy. Along with Molly Brown, co Author of ” Coming Back to Life – Guide to the Work That Reconnects”, Constance has been leading WTR retreats and workshops in Northern California since 2013. She is a founding member of the Conscious Elders Network, a Buddhist practitioner since 1968, and  a Community Dharma Leader.