August 2019 Issue

By Molly Brown

Welcome to the August 2019 issue of Deep Times.

 

(Click on cover to learn about the image.)

Dear darkening ground,
you’ve endured so patiently the walls we’ve built,

perhaps you’ll give the cities one more hour

and grant the churches and cloisters two.
And those that labor—let their work
grip them another five hours, or seven,

before you become forest again, and water, and widening wilderness
in that hour of inconceivable terror
when you take back your name
from all things.

Just give me a little more time!
I want to love the things
as no one has thought to love them,
until they’re real and ripe and worthy of you.

~Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke’s Book of Hours, I 61, Trans. Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy, Riverhead Books, 1996.

As I learn more each day about how the climate crisis is already impacting our world, its ecosystems and species and human communities, I think of this poem’s plea: “Please give us a little more time to love the things!”  We in the Industrial Growth Society are finally awakening to the mortal damage our economic system has been wreaking upon our precious planetary home, only to discover it may be too late to save any or all of what we love.  What a perilous and terrifying time is upon us! 

The Work That Reconnects offers people a powerful way to explore together the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and assumptions that are surfacing in the face of impending collapse of our social and economic systems and the sixth great extinction (including the possibility of human extinction).  The Work That Reconnects can help us touch into our deep gratitude for the life we’ve been gifted on this planet, as well as the deep grief, rage, and fear we experience now as we open our hearts and minds to how threatened it is. It can help us see with new eyes–and reconnect with ancient ways of seeing our world and ourselves–so that we can perceive more clearly our paths of action and response.  And the Work That Reconnects can help us find the courage and determination to act on behalf of life, even when we have little or no hope of long term “success.”

This issue of Deep Times explores the theme of “Living into the Great Unraveling,” as well as how the Work That Reconnects can better serve our communities through this time.  We begin as always with Gratitude, with a tribute to our root teacher, Joanna Macy, by Rebecca Hart, followed by a poem by Looby Macnamara on “Reconnecting”–through gratitude and pain.  

Honoring Our Pain for the World is especially meaningful as we grapple with the Great Unraveling all around us.  Dahr Jamail and Barbara Cecil offer their explorations of the haunting question on so many hearts and minds: “as the climate collapses, how then shall we live?”  Sarah Ryan continues that exploration with her poem, “The Monster in My Room.” In “Deep Adaptation: from the end of ‘normal’ to solidarity,” Silvia Di Blasio shares her own process in facing the extremity of the Great Unraveling and the support she is finding in the Deep Adaptation movement (following Joanna Macy’s recommendation.) Carolyn Treadway recounts an experiment with Open Sentences addressing collapse and the four “R’s” of Deep Adaptation, in “Thinking the Unthinkable,  Encountering the Unbearable.”  

Seeing with New/Ancient Eyes begins with a “Check-in from Joanna Macy” in which she shares her current perspectives on the the Great Unraveling and the Great Turning. Laura Grace Weldon reminds us of the true nature of power in her poem, “Clarion Reminder.” In “Building Community As a Response To Climate Chaos,” Carmen Rumbaut explores the relationship between climate chaos and oppression/exploitation, and how we can create ecological and non-oppressive community structures. Looby Macnamara’s poem, “Cultural Emergence” supports and furthers this theme.  

The Going Forth section offers two poems rousing us to action, “Galvanize” by Toni Spencer and “What Matters Now” by Minx Boron.  Aravinda Ananda reports on the developing “bioregional gatherings” of the Work That Reconnects community planned for the latter part of 2019, as facilitators and other friends of the Work come together around the world to face the Great Unraveling and explore how the Work That Reconnects can be of service in their regions. And Jo Bauen tells of her work bringing the Work That Reconnects to the San Francisco City Jail, including a Council of All Beings (which Joanna  Macy attended).

This issue includes a number of really great Resources related to our theme. Sean Kelly offers an abstract of his 35 page essay “Living in End Times: Beyond Hope and Despair,” with a link to the full pdf, which I highly recommend reading.  Martha O’Hehir reviews the website resilience.org and an article by Winona LaDuke in the Uncertain Future Forum. Karina Lutz picks up a theme of a previous issue–the “forever karma” of nuclear weapons and energy–in reviewing the book, Raised in the Shadow of the Bomb: Children of the Manhattan Project, by D. Leah Steinberg.  Barbara Ford reflects on the value of “Radical Gratitude” in these challenging times, with a link to her recently released introductory video.

I want to end with a link to Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s beloved essay, “We were made for these times. Indeed we are here now to face these interrelated and complex crises together; we really have no other viable choice. Clarissa’s words remind us of our capacities to step up and act from love on behalf of Life.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We plan to publish our next issue in February 2020 and welcome articles and poems on any theme.  Please check the Submission Guidelines if you want to offer articles, essays, poems, images, or other material.  Send submissions, proposals and queries to [email protected] by December 15, 2019.

Gratitude

The Gift of Belonging: A Tribute to Joanna Macy

by Rebecca Hart
A passionate tribute to root teacher Joanna Macy and her teachings.

Reconnecting

Poem by Looby Macnamara

Honoring Our Pain for the World

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

by Dahr Jamail and Barbara Cecil
This commentary is the first of a series in TruthOut: “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.

The Monster In My Room

Poem by Sarah Ryan

Deep Adaptation: from the end of “normal” to solidarity

by Silvia Di Blasio
A response to Jem Bendell's “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy.”

Thinking the Unthinkable, Encountering the Unbearable

by Carolyn Treadway
A report on an Open Sentence practice that explores one's responses to impending collapse

Seeing with New Eyes

Check-in from Joanna Macy

by Joanna Macy
Root teacher Joanna shares her thoughts and perspectives on the the Great Unraveling and the Great Turning as she perceives them now.

Clarion Reminder

Poem by Laura Grace Weldon

Building Community as a Response to Climate Chaos

by Carmen Rumbaut
Climate chaos is a result of historical oppression and exploitation, yet it presents an opportunity to create a social community structure based on ecological, anti-oppressive ways. 

Cultural Emergence

Poem by Looby Macnamara, permaculturist.

Going Forth

Galvanize 

Poem by Toni Spencer

International Bioregional Gatherings

by Aravinda Ananda
Regional gatherings across the world to activate our immune response in the face of climate chaos and the collapse of living systems as well as ongoing racism and oppression in all its forms.

Holding a Council Of All Beings, Behind Bars

by Jo Bauen
Jo describes her work bringing the Work That Reconnects to the San Francisco City Jail.

What Matters Now

Poem by Minx Boren

Resources

Living in End Times: Beyond Hope and Despair

Abstract by Sean Kelly
Abstract of a 35 page essay "for those who, consciously or unconsciously, have already abandoned all hope that we will be able to prevent civilizational collapse and halt the accelerating Great Unraveling."

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

Book review by Karina Lutz
Subtitle:Children of the Manhattan Project

Radical Gratitude Video Available

by Barbara Ford
Barbara reflects on the value of "Radical Gratitude" even in these challenging times, with a link to her recently released introductory video.

Network

The Work That Reconnects Network

The Work That Reconnects Network provides support, guidance, and inspiration to people all over the world in their work for the Great Turning.


Deep Times: A Journal of The Work That Reconnects

Vol. #4 Issue #2 – August 2019

Editor: Molly Brown

Editorial Team: Aravinda Ananda, Karina Lutz (poetry editor), Martha O’Hehir, Carmen Rumbaut, Rebecca Selove, Carolyn Treadway and Silvia Di Blasio

Webmasters:  Silvia Di Blasio

Deep Times is published online twice a year by the Work That Reconnects Network.

The Network provides support, guidance, and inspiration to people all over the world in their work for the Great Turning. We welcome your donations to support the Work That Reconnects Network and Deep Times. The Work That Reconnects Network is currently a fiscal project of Interhelp so all donations are tax-deductible.

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0.

International Bioregional Gatherings

 

By Aravinda Ananda

The Work That Reconnects Network Weavers have put out an invitation and warm encouragement for experienced and emerging facilitators of the Work That Reconnects to gather bioregionally in the latter months of 2019 – in person if possible, online if need be.

We can deepen our connections with each other, share our stories and pain for the world, and nurture our creativity and resilience. 

The Work That Reconnects Network has been working for the past several years to strengthen connectivity within the wider Work That Reconnects community and a key purpose of these gatherings is to strengthen both local and global interconnectedness. Another purpose of calling these gatherings is to support the flourishing of the Work That Reconnects in this time of great need, and as the Weavers say, to “activate our immune response in the face of climate chaos and the collapse of living systems as well as ongoing racism and oppression in all its forms. Through the Work That Reconnects, we can deepen our connections with each other, share our stories and pain for the world, and nurture our creativity and resilience to serve the web of life on Earth.”

A bioregion is a region defined by characteristics of the natural environment such as mountain ranges, ecosystems and watersheds rather than by man-made divisions.  However, in some places, the term will need to be applied quite loosely; for example, gatherings may be organized around a common language.

The Network is supporting local efforts by offering periodic Zoom video conferencing calls where co-creators can share hopes and dreams, plans, ideas, funding resources, and outcomes. Upcoming calls are scheduled for August 25 and September 15. To participate in the calls, please register your interest by filling out this form.

 While each bioregion will organize and fund its own program and logistics, the Network is strongly encouraging that these gatherings be co-led by people who have experienced the Work That Reconnects and understand it, including facilitators, emerging facilitators and practitioners of the Work That Reconnects. There is also strong encouragement to make the gatherings as inclusive as possible with special attention to the barriers of cost and other factors of accessibility. In some locations where there is not a critical mass of existing facilitators such as Texas, USA, organizers are offering an introductory workshop instead to grow the body of people familiar with the Work.  

 At the time of this writing, gatherings have been announced in the following locations:

Glasgow or Edinburgh, Scotland
Massif Central, France
Eden Sangha, Biella, Northern Italy
Netherlands
Johannesburg, South Africa
Fremantle, Australia
British Columbia, Canada
Calgary, Canada
North East Canada
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
New Jersey/New York City/Philadelphia, USA
Hudson River Valley, New York, USA
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Martindale, Texas, USA
Northern California, Bay Area, USA
Northern California, Anderson Valley, USA
Portland, Oregon, USA

And more are in the works. Please check workthatreconnects.org for updated locations, dates and contact information. If people aren’t already organizing a gathering for your area, there is still time to initiate one. You can register your interest and look for other interested people by filling out this form.

 The Network is offering groups organizing bioregional gatherings the use of Basecamp project management and team communication software. If you have never used Basecamp before, don’t despair (at least not about this); the Network has created tutorials explaining how to use that platform.

 It is a vision of the Work That Reconnects Network Weavers to explore having a global Gaian gathering in 2020 where people gather regionally on the same date for greater connectivity between hubs. However these 2019 bioregional gatherings are happening on different dates September through November as determined by local organizing groups. Some will be for just a day and some will be multi-day and residential. 

 Momentum is building and the Network Weavers are excited to see what emerges from these 2019 bioregional gatherings. Thank you for being a part of this growing Network.


Aravinda Ananda is a Work That Reconnects Network Weaver; a member of the Interhelp Council – the leadership body for a northeast United States regional Work That Reconnects Network; an editor of Deep Times journal; and a co-facilitator of the Earth Leadership Cohort – an immersion in the Work That Reconnects for people ages 18-30. She is a social ecologist living on Massachusett lands and is working on a forthcoming book called Living rEvolution. She is passionate about transforming the human relationship with all of life to be more generative. You can check out her shorter writings or join her mailing list at https:livingrevolution.net 

Radical Gratitude Video Available

Barbara Ford, an artist, singer, and seasoned facilitator of the Work That Reconnects, has created a deep dive exploration into the practices of Gratitude that are part of the spiral of of the Work. She offers a model for the creation of emergent practices that will inform those wishing to deepen their grounding and capacity to respond in these times of uncertainty and grief.

Barbara writes:

Radical Gratitude is a stance, a choice, an offering, and a practice. It can be scheduled, like a meditation, or simply arise in a moment of noticing. It can arise out of the familiar, or out of the utterly unexpected. It is available to us in any circumstance. It comes from our willingness to be present to grace on a regular basis.

By grace, I mean the deeply felt/deeply known awareness of our belonging to life.

By deeply felt/deeply known, I mean that we take our awareness beyond simple mental noting, into our heart, our body, our spirit, our intention.

I like to say that we need to take it down a few chakras.

We can explore ideas and practices to do just that- expand and deepen our relationship to gratitude, and thus our sense of belonging to the world. We live right now in a culture of dissociation on so many levels, leading to an epidemic of dissatisfaction and separation. Our consumer culture, in fact our whole economic system, is dependent on that dissatisfaction which fuels our perceived need for getting stuff- more stuff, better stuff, other people’s stuff. It encourages dissociation from our heart, our bodies, our creative energy, as well as the land, our food, our families, our communities, politics, and economic structures. In many ways, the major ills of our time- physical, social, political, and spiritual- are a direct result of this dissociative state.

Thus, paying attention is an act of resistance to a dissociative, dysfunctional culture. Re-inhabiting our life- our body, our heart, our creativity, our relationships, our communities, our earth, our cosmos- is done easily and joyfully through the practice of gratitude.

The practice of Radical Gratitude supports us as we move out into the world, for a being who is grounded in gratitude is capable of generosity, courage, and the resilience needed to be an active participant in the healing of our culture and our planet.

The video of the introductory overview of these ideas is here.

Plans for a 4 week deep dive webinar on Radical Gratitude are in the offing. For more info, sign up on  Barbara’s contact list at https://barbaraford.net

 

Cultural Emergence

By Looby Macnamara

This cultural emergency calls for cultural emergence
A breaking through, a breaking free,
Of cultures of isms and schisms
Of gun culture, war culture, rape culture, fear culture,
Greed culture, waste culture, chemical culture,
Of corporations controlling our culture
Polluting our culture.
Peeling back the layers of oil smothering our culture
Can we connect our roots into the Earth
And reach out to fellow beings and show our care?
Can we cultivate a
Responsibility culture
Friendship culture
Kindness culture
Justice culture
Safety culture
Peace culture
A culture of innovation, resilience and hope
Can we name and create the culture we want?
A visionary, regenerative culture
Can we shift our priorities, phobias, patterns,
Parameters, opinions, assumptions?
Can we bend or bury our beliefs?
Will we?

Will we reflect, connect, respect,
The collective?
Direct our objections
To the system
That promotes disconnection.
Challenge not blame,
Name and reframe,
Shift our perspective to gain a directive
That allows us to be receptive
To the interconnected web
Vibrating with every step.

Disrupt the pattern
To awaken and challenge
And begin to unravel cords of conditioning
To release the story
And create space for visioning.
Allowing the possibility of the seemingly impossible
To motivate and invigorate
The genius inside of us.
Activate and initiate
Appreciate and celebrate
Collaborate and participate
To co-create and facilitate
The desire to germinate
And take control of our fate
Moving away from this state

Of emergency
Into a state of cultural emergence
Where we use emergence to support emergence,
With the divergence and convergence of minds
Creating designs
With the intelligence of co-operating hearts
To give us a start
On this path
Of empowerment.
To bring fulfilment
And deep nourishment
It requires commitment
To trusting the process
And opening to osmosis
Of the mystical and magical
To be alchemical
With the mathematical
For practical and logical
Action
To bring connection
And emerge the solutions
For manifestation
Of personal and global transformation.


Looby’s bio: Looby Macnamara is a permaculture teacher and author of People and Permaculture and 7 Ways to think differently. Her third book, Strands of Infinity is a collection of poetry based on the Work That Reconnects, from which this poem comes. Looby is co-founder of the Cultural Emergence project creating a toolkit for positive cultural evolution. She lives on a 20 acre smallholding in UK, which is run as a demonstration and training centre; Applewood Permaculture Centre. To get signed copies of her book and more about Cultural Emergence and her courses see http://www.LoobyMacnamara.com

Clarion Reminder

By Laura Grace Weldon

The powerful provoke the powerless
to push against one another.
Their power grows by keeping us
in all kinds of prisons.

Yet we are not powerless.

Remember the black bear
roaming Clarion County, Pennsylvania,
its head trapped a month or more
in a metal-ringed pail.

Remember those who chased it for hours,
grabbed it in a perilous embrace,
carefully sawed loose those tight bonds.

Imagine what they felt as the bear
ran free into the woods.

Imagine too, the bear.


Laura Grace Weldon is the author of the poetry collections Blackbird (Grayson Books, 2019) and Tending (Aldrich Press, 2013), as well as a handbook of alternative education titled Free Range Learning (Hohm Press, 2010). Laura’s background includes teaching nonviolence, writing collaborative poetry with nursing home residents, and facilitating support groups for abuse survivors. She works as a book editor and also leads workshops on memoir, poetry, and creative thinking. She lives with vast optimism on a small farm where she’d get more done if she didn’t spend so much time reading library books, cooking weird things, and singing to livestock. Connect with her at lauragraceweldon.com or @earnestdrollery

Thinking the Unthinkable, Encountering the Unbearable

by Carolyn Treadway 

Reflection – Photo © by Carolyn Treadway

Climate disruption is accelerating all across our beloved Earth. Perhaps even the near future could bring collapse of multiple ecosystems, which would end life as we have known it, and could bring extinction to most of the species currently on our planet, our only home. 

OMG, what if we humans really are not going to make it through?

Realizations and questions such as these arise unbidden in our heart-minds, often catching us off guard, and we want to banish them and keep them from our consciousness. But they persist! Eventually, we may realize that we need to look at current realities and to sustain that gaze. But how do we handle the overwhelming emotions that arise? We are grateful that we have Joanna Macy’s longstanding teaching to guide us: the way to empowerment is through the pain.

 In a recent online meeting of the Deep Times Editorial Board to plan this issue on facing climate collapse, we wanted to offer some tools that readers could use in encountering this topic. We decided to experiment with Open Sentences, an exercise of Joanna’s that all three of us have experienced as profound.  

An online call was arranged, with three of us–Molly Brown, Carmen Rumbaut, and Carolyn Treadway–able to participate in that call. As it turned out, three was just the right number for sharing this exercise. We noted the importance of setting a context for addressing The Great Unraveling and end times–including possible collapse of human civilization or even human extinction. Asking people to contemplate such disaster cannot be just sprung on them without some explanation and choice to participate.

Once we had established our context, each of us, in turn, completed these two Open Sentences:

  1. What I am grateful for as I face collapse is ________________.
  2. What I feel as I face collapse is ______________________.

1. What I am grateful for as I face collapse is________________.
Some of our collective answers included: skills I have developed, trees around me, my life right now, family and friends, health, comfort, internet connectivity, opportunities to teach and counsel, sharing concerns, not feeling alone, WTR, indigenous teachings, the preciousness of the present moment and everything in it, capacity to give what may be needed now, spiritual life. 

2. What I feel as I face collapse is ______________________.
Collectively, we felt: sadness, despair, grief, uncertainty, guilt, anger, regret, emptiness, excitement about collapse of bad institutions, tired, numb, overwhelmed, much affected by knowing young lives will be cut short, fear of social violence, fear of lack of stamina and endurance.  How do we treat our children? Protect them from these realities or teach them how to face it? Take courage from “future beings” who thanked us for what we did to make it possible for them to be born.

Resilience, Relinquishment, Restoration, and Reconciliation.


We then turned to the “Deep Adaptation” work of Jem Bendell that Joanna Macy recommends. (See his website: www.jembendell.com.)  Jem is a British professor of social and organizational change.  He defines Deep Adaptation as a “post-denial view” that focuses on what we can do to prepare for (very) possible coming collapses. Jem suggests “4 Rs” as important for us in these times: Resilience, Relinquishment, Restoration, and Reconciliation. 

We used Open Sentences to consider his four topics. Each person responded to all four topics before moving on to the next person. Our collective responses were:

  1. Resilience: Habits, strengths, and behaviors in myself that I want to keep and strengthen are____________.
    Tenacity, determination, wisdom, compassion, love, seeing the larger picture, curiosity, alertness, a good brain, love of learning, calmness, inner peace, art, music, humor, the Buddhist concept of emptiness.
  2. Relinquishment: I am willing to let go of___________
    Blaming, pettiness, irritation with self and others, consumer society, property, possessions—even a whole house if wildfires consume it.
  3.  Restoration:  Moral values, behaviors, and sources of strength from the past, our ancestors, or other cultures that I can learn from and use include_______
    Indigenous wisdom, other cultures that faced extinction (such as Jews and Armenians), art, music, dance.
  4.  Reconciliation: In this time of terrible loss, I want to make peace with________. I want to offer and receive forgiveness for______.
    Make peace, make amends, get rid of guilt, continue being open to others’ pain and suffering.

All three of us felt the power of sharing Open Sentences together. We had the courage to face toward our deepest fears and experience a little of what lies beyond those fears. We affirmed qualities we have and want to keep, things we were willing to let go of, and directions we wanted to move toward. Collectively we felt lighter, more positive, energized, connected, open to more insights, and grateful for our deep sharing. For each of us, it was a very bonding experience.

As a result, we want to invite you, too, to experiment with Open Sentences.

We started our time with a terrifying question: what if we don’t make it? We ended with a profound question: In these times of pending collapse, how shall we live?  We do not know the future. Jem Bendell gives differing degrees of certainty for certain future events. For example, global warming is inevitable—with a high degree of certainty. Humans going extinct is possible—with a degree of uncertainty involved. 

One of us, Carmen, has experienced depression most of her life. She found that a benefit of having to face her own despair constantly is that she already was well-practiced when it came to facing this level of collapse. Finding her strengths, facing her fears, grieving what was lost, finding new meaning in the process of living, and determining what she could do about the current focus of despair was by now second-nature. She knew that not facing the fear only gave it more strength.

Carolyn shared her experience of having cancer, and then not knowing whether she was living or was dying–which seemed like opposites. As time went on, living and dying wove together as one. The way forward became the same: to live each day fully, cherishing every aspect of that day as if it were her last so-precious day of life. She noted the parallels between her personal experience and our planetary situation.

Is this a hospice time for Planet Earth, or is it not? We do not know. But what we do know is that either way, each and every day, we want to live deeply, love our Earth and all its interconnected inhabitants profoundly, and do everything we possibly can to care for and preserve us all.  


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]

The Monster In My Room

By Sarah Claire Ryan

There’s a monster lurking in my room. 
I can’t bear to turn around. 
Just there…in the corner of my eye. 
I mustn’t make a sound. 

There’s a monster prowling in my room,
That I’m trying to ignore. 
But it takes up so much space. 
Creeping up to roof from floor. 

There’s a monster biting in my room. 
I wish someone could save me. 
But it also lurks inside their house,
If only they could see. 

Maybe if I just don’t look,
The monster will leave me. 
Someone else can deal with him,
And I can run and flee. 

I feel the monster moving now, 
Heading for my babies’ rooms. 
I promised them I’d keep them safe – 
Yet here the danger looms. 

And whilst our generation may escape 
The monster’s full attack. 
Our children will most certainly
End up taking all the flak. 

There is only one way to defeat
The monster that waits there. 
We have to look it in the eye
And show how much we care. 

Accept that we have put him there
And through our actions made him grow. 
We have to grieve and shed the tears – 
Let those healing waters flow. 

Then when all the tears are done –
And there will be a few – 
We’ll roll up our sleeves and face this mess
The way that humans do. 

Together arm-in-arm we stand
Against that monster grim. 
With kindness, love and empathy
We can challenge him. 

And when we stop to really look
At the darkness up above,
We’ll see there’s no monster after all. 
Just a world in desperate need of love.


Sarah Ryan: “Sarah is a writer and environmentalist living in the heart of Bedfordshire with her husband Sean and two young boys, James and Thomas. Having worked as a lawyer for many years, her passion lies in simplifying things that seem complicated, whether that be language used in a legal document, or a global issue that overwhelms us into paralysis. In her Earth Warrior community, Sarah creates a safe space for those who feel helpless in the face of climate grief to help them galvanise their fears into meaningful action.

Sarah delights in all things magical, from the cheeky sparkle in her children’s eyes, to the unfolding wings of a newly awakened butterfly. With her writing, she hopes to inspire others to connect with the nature around and inside all of us. Because when we connect, we awaken. And when we awaken, we heal ourselves and the Earth. To find out more, please visit: www.sarahclaireryan.com.

Reconnecting

By Looby Macnamara

Reconnecting with my joy for life,
I appreciate being alive in this time.
I feel gratitude for the wonders around and within.
As I sense the timeless beauty expressed in the heart of a daisy,
I reconnect with the radiant beauty
travelling through the centre of my eyes.

Reconnecting with the splendour present in
every humming insect, in every bird in flight,
in every whispering of the leaves,
I touch the icy fear present in me, that one day
these treasures will be lost from our world.
Reconnecting with the well of sorrow that lives inside my belly and travels so deep,
my endless tears mourn what we have lost,
and my desire to protect is awakened.

Reconnecting with my anger for all the injustices,
I feel a surge of courage to make changes.
Diving below my numbness bar, I discover I care deeply for every person and being;
a part of me shares the suffering of those I have never met.

Reconnecting with my feelings, more of myself is engaged;
I feel energized and ready to stand and make a difference.

Reconnecting with my belly, I understand my power
Reconnecting with my feet, I feel my roots softening
into the Earth.
Reconnecting with my mind I experience my edges
and my lack of edges.
Reconnecting with my heart, my love
widens to fill my whole breath.
Reconnecting with my core,
I am who I am and I am fluid

Letting go of the stories of my life,
I reconnect with the poetry of my being,
the intimate expression of my soul,
the Mystery held in paradox.
As I let go of the shields protecting me, I open to my vulnerability
and in my vulnerability lies my source of strength.

Opening my eyes to the challenges of our times,
I welcome the possibilities and
opportunities for change and growth.
I reconnect with a fuller vision of what is possible
for myself and the world.
Reconnecting with strands of life woven between generations,
I feel myself as part of the community of all life.
Reconnecting with the reassuring presence of the Milky Way,
time and space stretch and I know not what to expect.
Reconnecting with collective and self responsibility,
I realise we are too powerful not to make a difference
and I find the courage to take a step forward.

 


Looby Macnamara is a permaculture teacher and author of People and Permaculture and 7 Ways to Think Differently. Her third book, Strands of Infinity is a collection of poetry based on the Work That Reconnects, from which this poem comes. Looby is co-founder of the Cultural Emergence project creating a toolkit for positive cultural evolution. She lives on a 20 acre smallholding in UK, which is run as a demonstration and training centre; Applewood Permaculture Centre. To get signed copies of her book and more about Cultural Emergence and her courses see http://www.LoobyMacnamara.com

The Gift of Belonging: A Tribute to Joanna Macy

By Rebekah Hart


Beloved teacher, Joanna Macy, celebrated her 90
th birthday on May 2nd, 2019.  Joanna is an eco-philosopher, systems scholar, activist, translator of Rilke’s poetry, engaged Buddhist and root teacher of the Work that Reconnects.

I first discovered Joanna’s work in 2002, when I was 20 years old. At the time, I read her collection of essays, World as Lover, World as Self, and wept with a sense of recognition and relief. I had felt a tremendous sense of despair and isolation about the state of the world since I had been a young teenager. This despair had led me to environmental activism, and eventually, to Vipassana meditation.

I had the intuition that the inner work of meditation and the outer work of activism were somehow connected.

Perplexed by why people could acknowledge a problem but not feel urgency to take action, I had the intuition that the inner work of meditation and the outer work of activism were somehow connected. I wanted to bring them together in service to helping people help the world, but I wasn’t sure how. Tears came as I read Joanna’s words because it felt like she was integrating and articulating the many strands that I had desperately been trying to weave together, too, in my young life. She was talking about deep ecology, activism and Buddhism. Most importantly, she was talking about ecological despair at a time when no one else was. And Joanna had developed a practice, a form of group work, to help people honour their pain and reconnect to their power, which was exactly what I was looking for.

I enrolled immediately in a Work that Reconnects weekend with Joanna at the Rowe Center in Massachusetts. Later that year, I began facilitating workshops myself, first for students at McGill, and then eventually more widely. Over the years I have been lucky to spend over 75 days learning and collaborating with Joanna in retreats and workshops. We maintained a correspondence and she became my friend, mentor and spiritual teacher.

Perhaps the most significant gift Joanna has given to me – and to everyone touched by her work – is the transmission of the “perceptual shift” that comes alive through the Work that Reconnects. This perceptual shift is not an intellectual one – it’s a visceral response, a fundamental embodied sense of belonging with all life, and therefore one’s power to act for our world. Somehow, by joining together, normalizing and sharing our pain for the world in a collective context – including exploration through ritual – this perceptual shift comes to life. We see, as Joanna states, that “to feel pain on behalf of our world is evidence of our interconnectedness”.

…the very action of collectively going towards what we most fear – of naming our pain, anxiety, anger, or despair – becomes a homecoming.


And it’s a practice. Like any member of the Industrial Growth Society, I lose touch with this perception under the daily pressure to survive the grind of late stage capitalism. But I can feel the shift when I connect to a wild place that blows my heart open, to a person that I love, or to the teachings and practices of the Work that Reconnects. It often happens unexpectedly when I prepare for a workshop, or during workshops themselves, when suddenly the very action of collectively going towards what we most fear – of naming our pain, anxiety, anger, or despair about the social and ecological crises we face – becomes a homecoming. In moments like those, there is a feeling of warmth and of friendliness that connects me to everyone in the room, even with those who are barely more than “strangers”. My sense of time expands and shifts. My fear abates, and I feel the force of life as a great intelligence flowing through us, creating and sustaining us. Even though the future is uncertain, I feel trust. Joanna calls this a shift in our sense of self – from separate self to Ecological Self. In moments like those, we come alive to our true nature, which is to say, we are made of relationship. There is a sense of great relief. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re alive and we’re courageous and we know we’re not alone. We feel renewed creativity and willingness to take action for what we love, no matter what happens.

It’s our gratitude and belonging in the web of life that can never be severed, no matter what we do.

I spoke to Joanna a few weeks ago, and she shared how important she feels it is, in these times of ecological crisis, of widespread social violence and injustice, to allow the “edge of bliss” to accompany the “edge of fear” that so many of us feel on the daily. That edge of bliss is the perceptual shift. It’s our gratitude and belonging in the web of life that can never be severed, no matter what we do. To me, that’s the true meaning of the Work that Reconnects.

Feeling deep gratitude for Joanna and her inspirational life. May she live many more healthy and joyful years, for the benefit of all beings!


Rebekah Hart is a somatic psychotherapist, marriage and family therapist, creative arts therapist, and longtime facilitator of the Work that Reconnects. She has studied extensively with Joanna Macy since 2002, and continues to collaborate with her. Rebekah takes a systemic and trauma informed approach to her work as a facilitator and therapist, weaving together a diverse background in dance, poetry, activism and mindfulness meditation. She has been offering workshops and mentorship in the Work that Reconnects for over 16 years. For more information on Rebekah and her work, see www.rebekahhart.ca