Alive

By Vickie Ya-Rong Chang

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part IV

Recorded by author

“A Rocky Place, a Place Where Water Runs” by Mollie Hosmer-Dillard
  https://molliehd.com/

 

Alive
Sitting in stillness (or is it aliveness) like the stately family of wood that lines the road— rooted  to the earth below and connected to the sky above, swayed by the wind of the breath and the  steady thrum of the red heart, I pull the darkness out of me and it sits like an old friend, before  me, close enough to touch. Today it looks like a chair, with arms and a back, legs and a head,  the color of my raven tresses, the hairs stiffened and matted into form.  

The chair is living and it is dead.  

Much like my dear friend—the young sapling—living behind the wooden box that I call home.  I am startled when the elderly mother with wavy ramen framing her pale face remarks—half of  the tree is dead. I look in wonder—green sprouting from one side of the intertwined legs, and  bare branches on the other. We could cut off the dead part, she suggests. I feel the curl of fear  in the belly. To let go of what is dead, when it has been supporting me day after day after day.  The days turning into weeks years decades centuries lifetimes.  

How easily cement can be mistaken for wood. A lie for the truth. 

What is alive and what is masquerading as life? 

Life is red.  

The red of the moon blood that echoes the rhythm of the tides, stopping, starting, coming  monthly, some years not at all, confident in her knowing.  

The bumps on the tongue lazing in the mouth, begging for rasa, the juice of life. 

The red of the match box, the sudden tiny spark that comes from the alchemy of x + y that  starts the journey. The journey with no ending or beginning. 

The howl of an newborn emerging from the womb, our first home, the first migration that  contains it all. 

I belong 
                           I feel 
                                                      I am 
                                                                               See me  
                                                                                                             Hear me  

And the long journey back to the first wail of life from the red mouth of desire.  

The simplicity of answers that lie in the trill of the tiny brown birds flying in ribboned paths                                    

                                                                        the fat bulges of pollen on
                                                                        the yellow bees’ hanging legs
                                                                        the curve of the opulent white petal 
                                                                        the click of the glossy raven’s claws on the roof 
                                                                        the blue dragonfly tickling my toes, nudging me to  
    

                                                                                                        s e e.

The way the everything everything bends towards the light. How the sacredness of play,  pleasure, rage and desire have become revolutionary, radical, forbidden like the name of the  dark purple rice I eat with red jujubes and black sesame seeds. 

We have created an enemy of the untamable current of life, and the loud echo of violence lives  within the wild animals we inhabit—that we force into obedience in a culture a country a world  that worships machines, productivity, doing, mind. We have moved from the simple truth of  being, belonging, relationship—each breath, cry, and life—to war. The instinct for survival, so  deeply planted in all living beings, resting alert in the base of the brain, has been weaponized  for a masquerade called life.  

Buried within us like the terra-cotta warriors in the ancient capital of Xi’an, we are commanded  by a motherless dead king come to life across continents cultures peoples. The ruthless  precision of war—to defend to the death—for survival. The elaborate structures each with  their specific purpose; the weapons the planning the strategy the armies.  

Tracing circles on the soft rounded belly, the limp cobwebs of the mind clear. The truth spills  out, and I walk the red road home. 

 *       *       *

Life is red.  

The red threads representing the Buddha’s robes that adorned the tiny bones of my wrist for  nearly a decade. The terror and pain of living in a Taiwanese monastery surrounded by a  culture by people cut off from sensuality play desire…separated by lifetimes dynasties from  what makes us human. Duty responsibility guilt shame, the guards of patriarchy, dictating  nearly every moment every gesture all the way back to the Qin Dynasty that marked the  beginning of the Chinese empire over 2000 years ago. The way that work and play were once  lovers, one feeding the other, not knowing where one ends and the next begins. Now we are  like buzzing drones hovering over life, not quite touching the rich fertile soil of the earth.  

The feral kittens who come to teach us how to play how to learn; who remind us how to be.  The tumbling the rowdiness, hanging off the curtains on the dining hall tables, the temple  suddenly a playground, creating havoc, breaking all the rules, meowing in the face of the  scolding tiny nun, and everyone laughs, delights, and the wild animal imprisoned inside  breathes. 

Spirituality culture life are shaped by the motherless dead king buried within us. The beauty the  power the freedom of the lineage outside these boxes outside these rules, the truth that is  bigger than all of these ideas, decaying at the moment of birth, destined for death. The months at  the monastery remind me, imprint upon me as if for the first time, I have forgotten so deeply,  that I am as sacred as the land holding these tender yellow feet, that I am connected in each  moment with the ancestors the spirits the deities. The truth knocked into me like the newborn  before it takes its first breath, and I remember.  

The gift from my ancestral lineage that changes everything and the oppression of day to day  life in the monastery like the legs of the dead/alive tree. So when I leave the lush tropical  countryside by the sea on a tiny island on this round globe surrounded by fertile darkness, I  gasp a deep breath and another and another—the fullness of being reunited with the wild  inside. Untangling all the red threads as I drop the robes from my shoulders and step into the  arms of the mother—I no longer serve the dead king.  

*           *          * 

Life is red. 

The color of the square plastic card that fuels the hunt for riches running beneath the land of  the people that call themselves red. The body, the land, our first mother, becomes a  commodity to be measured, exploited, destroyed. Certain parts, like breasts like oil gas  uranium petroleum coal, are deemed of value and pillaged to scarcity—whole ecosystems  families communities cultures continents left decimated thirsty screaming dying. The ruthless  nature of war, driven to the bitter end by the imaginary engine of survival. A war in our home  against ourselves within our bodies against our bodies. 

The dying Navajo/Diné, whose territory has the highest rate of COVID-19 in the nation. To be at  the top— in obesity substance use diabetes heart disease death—different words diagnoses  boxes all pointing to the same violence the same war—a country bowing to the god of  patriarchy of separation scarcity and powerlessness, that decides which lives which bodies  which beings matter. The green soil flowing like water in the direction of power—the idea  twisted bloodied. The decades of oil gas uranium petroleum mining absorbed into the water  the soil the food the body. Disrupting the sanctity of the womb of the earth from which we all  live. The red handprint on the mouth of the epidemic of murdered missing Indigenous women  driven by the men who come to rape the earth.  

The genocide that birthed the country I call home alive breathing each day every moment. The  shame of being part of a family that murders discards leaves to die. I see red. The rage (fierce  compassion) of the red dragon that rises from the belly, fire erupting from her mouth, knowing  

the strength the singular power and value of each being. The true meaning of power as  reflected in the elements—the power of a cresting wave (water) is not the power of the first  spark known to mankind (fire) is unlike the power of air cycling in and out of the intricate lungs  is different than its friend metal (who teaches alchemy) and its cousin wood (earth incarnate).  The beating of the red heart, the roar of the small dragon (⼩ ⿓, snake) when I dare to exist to  see to feel to speak. 

For the indigenous way of life, the indigenous way of being circles around relationship, the  opposite of war. Where there is no enemy, only kissing cousins, fathers, grandmothers, sisters,  friends—all creatures within their own divine place in the mysterious adventure of life.  Protectors, we call the Indigenous and those who stand by them, who live by the wisdom of  their ways. Land protectors water protectors air protectors. The word pointing to the truth that  we cannot live without this holy protection— without the very foundation that we stand on  being love.  

*           *         * 

Life is red.  

The color of the forked tongue of the serpent that dared to enter the house of the two legged in  a small town in Mother India. The fear in the daughter the mother driving the fingers to dial the  number to call the father the uncle the brother the friend to beat the living creature to death  with the slender piece of wood, an echo of her body. The powerful blows, the thuds against the  concrete ringing in my ears even as I protest, the useless prayers, the disdain in their faces,  this foreigner who does not understand. Then, her long body senseless, the red blood staining  the earth always staining the sacred.  

The sorrow etched across the daughter’s face, hands pressed against the long dress and  pants, legs always shielded from view. She haltingly tells me that they worship the king cobra, and I watch from a distance, numb, filled with dread with remorse as they burn her body, offer  prayers, and pour milk on the earth.  

The next day a dam has loosened inside me and the tears come in wild torrents like a storm in  the high desert. The killing of the serpent has become the war against the feminine, the  desecration of the sacred animal body. I touch all the bruises in the psyche, living in the body,  from being brutally attacked, beaten, and burned for daring to exist. For longing for desire for  moving with the wild body with the belly against the earth. The grief the tears the rage that rise  from deep inside into a standing king cobra, alertness blazing from her eyes, ready to defend  to strike to live to dance to be.  

The ash of the fire stains the earth for weeks months as I circle back on two wheels to  remember her, the heart tight, the eyes stinging. Until one warm night, the air punctuated by  howling dogs who remember they were once grey wolves, a father with the face of a teenager  reminds me, his green eyes looking into my brown ones, as an old friend from another land  looks on, that yes, I am the murdered serpent,  
but also 
I am the mother and daughter who called the men  
I am the wooden stick that beat her 
I am the men who burned her 
I am the red orange blue flames licking her slender form into black ashes
I am the milk poured on the earth 
I am the grieving daughter 
and I am the earth receiving it all.  

The lesson he learned from a teacher whose father was killed in a civil war of the tiny tear drop  country, the size belying its heart, Sri Lanka, only a one hour away says the iron man in the sky.  And the words, the light in his eyes, my silent friend with the heart full of love leaning towards  me, and even the dogs listen as I take one breath then another and another and something  inside me slows, and the shaky voice rests, the lungs stop heaving, the heart returns to  stillness. 

*            *          * 

There is a chasm the width and depth of the grand canyon between survival and living. To  travel from the red zone of terror, the mechanized war paths of survival, molded and incited by  patriarchy, colonization, capitalism and their children, migration, plague, famine, war  

                                                                                    to 

The breathing red fire of the belly, the beating vastness of the great still heart is the work of a lifetime(s). 

The truth is that there is nothing safe about being alive; to seek safety in life is certain death.  When I follow the heartbeat of the earth; when the heart is my guru and the body is my temple,  the red road takes me places beyond imagination. After all, the mind can only create what it  knows.  

I walk on the earth and she meets me like a lover. The wind caresses my cheek, stroking my hair  back from my forehead. The ants tickle my feet and run up my legs, leaving a trail of wonder at  all the different shapes of consciousness. The sun celebrates the magnificence of my beauty. I  look upon the mountains with the eyes of a mother, full of pride, feeling their solidity inside. The  ocean swells in my belly. All the senses are heightened; I can breathe, taste, smell, hear, and  touch the earth in symphony. The feeling of arousal echoes the dense, low, full clouds before a tempest. The earth entreats me to open my legs to her, to allow her to reside in the center of  my being. She tells me to live how I want to touch and be touched. 

Today, I speak of violence and of peace. No one naturally silences the life force; we do so in order to survive. To be separated from the false safety of survival that is American, Chinese ancestral  family culture is tantamount to death. And I had to wait until I was ready to die, to live. 

 


Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut

The second daughter of Chinese immigrants, Vickie Ya-Rong Chang (she/her) was born and  raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. In her work as a psychologist and writer, she is dedicated  to personal = collective liberation. She is strengthened by her connection to Chinese ancestral  practices and shaped by her relationship with the people, culture, and land of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, first settled by the Pueblo peoples, the Ute, and the Jicarilla Apache, and  known by the Navajo/Diné; the holy hill Arunachala in Tiruvannamalai, India; and the Divine Buddha Temple in Taiwan.

The five-kilometre radius pilgrimage

by Bianca Crapis

Recording by author

I left my house without an inkling of where I was headed. No route planned for my wander, just a burning desire to leave the house. My head had taken on a prison-like quality recently, a cacophony of blares and whispers and squawks. It was hard to find solace there. I was sitting with some big decisions and fundamentally no idea of what was being asked of me.

“What is mine to do?” The forest had answered, in their mystical and cryptic way.

A question floated to me a few months earlier in a Work that Reconnects gathering, “What is mine to do?” The forest had answered, in their mystical and cryptic way. It seemed that the real challenge began when that answer was taken out into what we call “society”. The answer from my forest friends was not cryptic at all. Their answer was clearer and more succinct than the obstacle course of labels, rules and accredited pathways this world has created to legitimise. I do not begrudge this process, with its important merit in protecting the wellbeing of others. I only wish it more matched the language of the forest, a language I have only just begun to slowly relearn.

When faced with a decision, the inquisitive student in me seemed to disintegrate; replaced with a narrow desire to make the “right” choice.

Typically, I’m an attentive and curious student. I can be patient and exploratory. I have apprenticed in the art of letting go of outcomes. But the processes of internal burrowing, undoing and re-weaving that had been occurring over the past few months were now calling to be expanded to include the field of others. Opportunities that I had worked towards presented themselves to me, despite my own well of doubts about my own capacities. When faced with a decision, the inquisitive student in me seemed to disintegrate; replaced with a narrow desire to make the “right” choice.

I was firmly within this colosseum when I left my home, fighting with myself, barely attuned to the ferociously blue sky, the vibrant banksia blooms, the sparkling dew on the gum leaves. Language escapes me when I try to pinpoint exactly what happened next, but I’ll do my best within its confines. I know full well that it cannot capture the transcendent and the descendent alignment, the dance of spirit and soul when they meet and merge, and the world becomes peacefully mute and ethereally choral at once. There was, in that moment, a deepening knowing of my journey. Another layer added both below in the world of burrowing and above in the world of weaving. Now I knew why I had left the house. I was unprepared with my water supply and I was not 300 metres from home when this landed, but that thread that pulls me from my gut forth towards an invisible known was stronger than my risk-averse brain.

I was on a pilgrimage. 

There were three places that I visited, each with their own personality, energy, critters, teachings and peculiarities.

During the hard lockdown in Victoria, we were only permitted to “exercise” within a five-kilometre radius of home. My five-kilometre radius and I developed a new and intense relationship. There were three places that I visited, each with their own personality, energy, critters, teachings and peculiarities. I visited these places with my calm contentment, my worried fervour, my grieving heart, my playful enthusiasm, my compassionate gaze and my tensed loyal soldier. These places were, for me, friends, teachers, lovers, and at times, antagonists, jokesters, and annoyingly cryptic sages. These places witnessed all of it, counselled me through it, and teased something larger than what I’d previously thought possible. 

I wandered to them during lockdown. My wandering took on all sorts of manifestations. At times, the slowness and aimlessness were treasures that I could ride all through the day or week, at other times there was a narrowing, some sort of task focus, some sort of answer to be squeezed out of the places I visited, but the forest was always far cleverer than I. Never pandering to my desire to know, the forest and all their creatures knew how to dance the samba of uncertainty.

Traumas shatter our sense of safety, they pull the rug out from under what we thought were basic truths of the world, they occur when the pain of a situation is just too much to bear.

When the global onset of coronavirus began, I watched the world around me crumble and I knew that this would be a global trauma. Traumas shatter our sense of safety, they pull the rug out from under what we thought were basic truths of the world, they occur when the pain of a situation is just too much to bear. A part of our bodies and our brains seem to swoop in to hold us, protecting us from that which is too overwhelming for our psyches. When the tear is too great to make logical sense of, our brains are adept at finding a placeholder, often in our bodies, to guard the hurt. Not all traumatic events become traumas. I’ve noticed that the determinant of this tends to be how much safety we have in our lives to feel and process the traumatic event immediately after it occurs. Instead of feeling during the onset of the pandemic, many folks turned to home fitness, sourdough baking, learning a new language. I mean not to judge how we cope, merely to notice that this is a form of coping. Productivity can be a form of trying to cope with a trauma in the absence of knowing how to or having the safety to fully feel.

The forest’s unwavering presence gave me the language to start to talk about my experience.

If there is a sense here that I am trying to dictate another’s experience of trauma, I want to say that I know my experience, but I don’t know yours; I don’t know hers or theirs or his. When I’ve felt torn apart by my experiences, I went to the forest and they held me. Crying at the base of a tree trunk, being held in the endless green of a meadow, soothed by song of an unknown bird, or captivated by the dance of a lyrebird who made me believe in pure magic. The forest’s unwavering presence gave me the language to start to talk about my experience. They helped me to uncover identities about who I am, and then to go beyond them. I’m wary of anthropomorphising the forest. I know the forest has not simply been waiting for wounded humans to stumble upon their terrain so that they can nurture us back into wholeness. The natural world completes so many life-giving functions and we need not flatter ourselves with believing that this is another one. 

The forest is not all nurturance; it is also fierce and violent. The act of holding that truth alongside my own pain, the existence of both the beauty and the chaos, allowed me to move beyond the narrative of a hurt self, that things ever needed to be just one way or another, that I was even an independent being at all. As in Macy’s work, the collapse of all we know, the Great Unraveling, seemed to bring on a well of feeling for the world as the pandemic progressed. There were many stories of folks turning to nature, and this is only mine —one, cis, queer, underemployed, young woman in Australia on a pilgrimage to the places of green canopies, duck-song lakes and dandelion-dotted hills that held me. 

…a soulful knowing of the reciprocity of all things bubbled within.

Overflowing with the boundless gifts that the natural world was so prepared to give to me during my time of hardship, how could I even begin to give back? Struck by this question, did I even know what a pilgrimage was? Maybe my head did not, but a soulful knowing of the reciprocity of all things bubbled within. Not quite yet forgotten in a culture of ownership, something in me remembered that this was a natural energy exchange. That this burst of energy I felt had a specific channel of direction, and that was right back into the earth.

The rituals of my pilgrimage flowed naturally forth. There was a presence of the exceptional, natural abundance around me. There was a sit spot in each quiet space of the forest. There was a mandala made from natural materials, an artistic gift back to the earth. There was movement, dancing to the sounds of the forest, allowing my body to embody the very essence of that place—an acknowledgement that this forest had made their way inside me, and notions of my body as entirely mine had flaws. I could not be without this natural world.

Letting ourselves breathe into the questions of … what do we offer back to the natural world?

My pilgrimage did not spontaneously alight a path to healing the divides of our time. But as my body took form in an open clearing of the forest, letting the energies of the natural world mould my body into fluid and ever-changing shapes, I felt that this was the path to beginning that healing. To giving traumas a safe place to lay their head and come to trust in safety, to seeing how “oneness” as perceived by white, able-bodied, cisgender, straight and neurotypical people is not an ultimate reality for all beings in our current time, to losing some of the suffocating grip. Letting ourselves breathe into the questions of not what the natural world offers us, but what do we offer back to the natural world? What would it mean if we truly, authentically questioned the legacy of this life and a life beyond ourselves?


Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut

Bianca Crapis (she/her) is a young person who lives, works and plays upon the unceded land of the Wurrundjeri and Boon Wurrung people. She is an aspiring psychologist with visions for a mental health approach that deconstructs neoliberalism, critically examines trauma and resistance, explores decolonising the mind and considers the multi-faceted nature of wellbeing that must include connectedness to the earth. When not wandering outdoors, she supervises a school mentoring program, volunteers with Psychology for a Safe Climate, studies Sacred Circle facilitation, and learns rewilding and contemplative spiritual practices from various teachers around Naarm (Melbourne, Australia).

A Gift in the Darkness

By Val Silidker

Recorded by author

At the beginning of every great adventure is a day unlike any other day.
This is the moment.What an invitation.
To break the trance,
To let the old ways crumble.

The teacher has arrived.

As we set out into the unknown, as we listen to that inner call (you know the one that’s been whispering within us for a long time)…we begin to discover the deeper truth.

Earth as a whole is suffering.

Toxic air, poisoned water, mass extinction, deforestation, rapid climate change, refugees, domination over others, increased inequality, profit as a bottom line, disease and pandemics, and on and on…

The alarms have been sounding, we just haven’t been responding. This runaway system is striving for balance, and business-as-usual cannot continue. The message is loud and clear. Can you hear it now?

We have been caught up in a worldview of separation that has led us to devastation. We’ve known this, and yet we’ve continued. We knew this change was coming. This is not a surprise.

It is the Great Unraveling. And we are invited to face ourselves.

To see the world through new eyes.
Cleansing, purging, balancing.
There is clarity in the water, in the skies. 
We can breathe again.

Through this devastation, through the fog of fear, a new picture is forming.

A new possibility for the way we live our lives, a new way of connecting. A new way to thrive.

The birds are singing; the people are singing. 

We are not alone in our isolation.

We are here, together.
What wants to emerge?
What gift are we being given?

From the dark night of the soul, we are always invited to step forth with more clarity, more resilience, more strength.

As we dissolve old patterns of behavior, we get to decide who we want to be, how we show up, and how we lead our world forward from this point on.

Everything is possible. And there’s one thing for certain: change.

So let’s embrace this moment. Let’s embrace each other. With our hearts, with our minds, and with our actions.

There is a gift in the darkness.

May we receive it with love, compassion and vision for the Great Work to come.

Image Photo credit: Lyse Marion


Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut

Val Silidker is the founder and director of Psychospiritual Institute. She is a Board Certified Coach and spiritual teacher with over 20 years in leadership, activism, and transformation. She is also a Deep Ecologist, international speaker, coach trainer, and author of “Call of the Ecological Self.” Val works with changemakers, emerging leaders and visionaries to inspire the highest level of mindset, purpose, and action in their lives, and has been featured multiple times on Hay House Radio, NBC, and USA Today, as well as numerous publications. Through her mindful living events, workshops, coach training programs and 1-1 coaching, she has gratefully worked with and inspired the transformation of thousands of people throughout the world. Val is passionate about rewilding our hearts and believes that through love and authentic connection we are inspired into action toward a more compassionate and whole world.

Shards

by Susana Rinderle

Recorded by author

 

I don’t know how to be
among so much brokenness.
I have the hands of a healer,
the eyes of a fixer.
There are too many that need healing
too many that worship
the brokenness
obediently inhaling toxic fumes
they mistake for air.

I’m not accustomed
to lying down on broken glass.
I set about with my broom
and my glue
because I was born this way.
I still believe in wholeness,
still covet purpose
but the mob rolls their eyes 
at what mine can see
waving away my glue and salve
calling them futility
even as they ask me
to heal and fix
their brokenness

while 
they 
keep
breaking things.

I know I should adapt.
It would be easier
if I could learn
to whirl and thrash
amidst the chaos
as they do.
It’s not my principles
it’s my programming

I simply cannot get comfortable
among these shards
and twisted metal.
I love softness and green.
I crave slow quiet
in my cells.
I’m convinced they are possible
and I am worthy.

I’ve given up
on finding the edge
of this rusting decay.
I suspect this crumbling
is the world now.
Dread and déjà vu
slow my steps,
for I know how 
this movie ends.

But I still don’t know how to be
among so much brokenness.

Perhaps
if I can just
sweep a clear, smooth patch
to claim as my own
away from the mob
I’ll be able to lie down
rest 
and survey the terrain.
Perhaps I’ll find others 
truly weary of the brokenness
or a path leading out
of this shatter zone
where
my hands 
and my eyes
can find a new home.


Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut

Susana Rinderle is a writer, wisdom coach, wellness warrior and workplace wizard. Her mission is to heal what ails us through creativity, heart, and insight. Her purpose is to help create a world that works better for more of us in support of the Great Turning. She is a trauma survivor, oddball and multi-identity woman living in Los Angeles. Susana is grateful for the healing power of trees, fur, sunlight, art, body-focused therapies and beloved community. She celebrates the truth found in deep ecology that all is divine, interdependent and interconnected. You can read her poetry in the Malpais Review, Catching Calliope, We Don’t Break, We Burn anthology and at www.purplelyrics.org.

Numb

by Anna Charalambous-Green

Recording by author

Numb: A feeling that takes over as a protective mechanism when shock sets in following a traumatic event.

Numb is a sensation that has recurred along my journey through life. From war torn Cyprus in 1974. Hiding beneath the stairs as bombs dropped overhead from Turkish planes.   Atrocities in quaint blue and white churches. The long march to the British air base on the Island. A snaking line of families, carrying what they could. Clutching  important belongings, as the tiny Ghurkha soldiers march the other way, long curved knives in hand. Goodbye Mr Tabs,  our beautiful tabby cat. Please find your way to safety.

Numb.

Inner city Birmingham. Bussed from RAF Brize Norton. The English refugees from invaded Cyprus arriving in the bus station underneath the Bullring centre. I’d never seen so many people. I clutched my mother’s hand for fear of being swallowed up by the crowd.

A year later, dad arrived. A Greek Cypriot national, he had made his own way, to meet us. A whole year later. I was so happy I jumped on him as he walked through the door of our council flat in inner city Birmingham. 

I was not like the other children in my inner city infant school.  I was not full of chatter and fun. I was subdued, watchful. I hadn’t spoken for two years and school psychiatrists were engaged. 

The school sent our class on a visit to the countryside. From the massive sprawl of concrete and vile air, to the green fields of the shire counties that surround the metropolis.  Us inner-city kids hadn’t seen a cow, and trees and all this green. When it came time to go, we filled our pockets with leaves that had fallen. Memento mori. 

My sister and I had both done well at school, but we’d been plagued with stomach pains,  which had later been diagnosed as Crohn’s disease.  My sister died from complications in the gut as secondary to the effects of Crohn’s only last year. Dad developed stomach cancer and passed when I was eleven – Numb.

Only me and Mum now. I’ve been pensioned off work due to the constant surgery and illness from the disease. I sold the house that Mum and I shared to pay for Mum’s care home. Alzheimer’s means Mum can no longer remember the real world – Numb.

But when the numbness lifts, I hear the depths of my nature. The a priori images from beyond the womb. It is the sound of the wilderness calling. The depths of my nature, calling me back to the wild forest.

I took the money I’d saved from my work severance package and headed for the countryside, just like I had done as a child, so many years earlier.

I set up a rural retreat for urban dwellers here in the West Wales countryside. It is a beautiful place,  with a Community Woodland Garden and Orchard. The people who visit and become “Friends of the Wood” have their own plot in the garden and can take away what they grow. Those who have been prevented from coming due to lockdown this year have followed on Facebook as we develop and grow the site. A haven is waiting for those who need respite from the chaos of millions of scared people packed into urbanized concrete and glass.

Some who have come from nearby towns, especially this year, are numb. From the madness of the pandemic, of loss of family members. Unsure of the future of work, of an increasingly strange and unknown landscape of masks and fear.

But here, in the honeysuckle glade that is set aside for raised beds for organic growing, the tension of the world outside does not penetrate.  Time moves differently here.  The Green whispers through the trees of how to cast off the anxiety caused by events beyond our control. I hear the echoes down the years, of the children rushing to pick up leaves from paradise, before being bussed back to the city and I know the Green has entangled these visitors from the urban metropolis in his spell.  

As we garden, we watch the wild birds and chat among ourselves. I see the tension melt away from their faces. Amidst the chaos of this diseased, recession-ridden world, there is a sense to make. This is the sense of a self-sustaining, rural existence. This is what is best for all of the people, and not just a few. This is what is best for society, and for our home – mother earth.


Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut

Anna Charalambous-Green is the Woodland Manager at West Wales Woods where her role is actively ensuring that those in the local community who have the need of “food banks” have the option of and the support to grow their own food in the Community Woodland Garden that she runs passionately.
As a qualified teacher of music, Anna also leads on several musical therapy projects in the local community. She writes prose and poetry in both English and Welsh, and has two delightful doggy companions who accompany her on her journeys through the Welsh wilds.

Quantum

by Matthew O’Tuama

 

Recorded by author

I cant do this live.
I cant tell you the story,
And fly the ship,
Both at the same time.
So I’m opening a space.
Pushing forward
In what you call time,
But I know it as distance.
I’m opening the door right now.
Can you hear me friend?
We’re together
Compassionate
And strong.


Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut

Matthew has been writing words and music from a young age. His cottage recording and art studio is located in rural Tipperary, Ireland. A musician and songwriter, Matthew has been involved in several projects concerned with the welfare of the planet and wildlife. Over the years, Matthew has been involved in folk clubs, promoted music, and mentored young musicians. His album Universal Acoustic Radio, was released in late 2019. Matthew was introduced to the Work That Reconnects by a friend. He considers it an important platform, in these deeper times. His website is:  https://matthewotuama.com/

Activism Inside the Tiger’s Mouth

By Karina Shields and Bobbi Allan

Recorded by author

Many years ago, Katrina was gifted a drawing of a rampant tiger, exquisite, strong. The caption in beautiful script read: “The best place for meditation is in the tiger’s mouth”. The artist, Khemananda, was a Thai monk and social justice activist who was seeking asylum on the intentional community, Bodhi Farm, where she lived. As both an activist and meditator, Katrina found the metaphor equally apt.

Bobbi was simultaneously gifted Joanna’s book, Despair & Personal Power in the Nuclear Age (Macy, 1983), reading it during a forest meditation retreat, weeping with gratitude. We soon partnered with others to form ‘Interhelp Australia’ (1) and invited Joanna to visit. Pat Fleming, previously trained by Joanna in the UK, guided us in leading ‘Despair and Empowerment’ workshops across the country. These inspired and built networks, culminating in Joanna’s hugely successful 1985 Australia-wide tour which birthed the ‘Council of All Beings’.

The year 1985 was a crossroads moment for activism here. Australian post-war activism had ‘won’ on many social justice fronts – rights for women, workers, lesbians and gays. Activism had also removed our troops from the Vietnam War, protected the Terania Creek and Daintree Rainforests and Tasmania’s Franklin River. 

Katrina, John, Bobbi at Joanna Macy Intensive, 1985

As voting rights for indigenous Australians were won, and land rights limped onto the national agenda, for us it was also a time of realising more about the multiple and intergenerational traumas inflicted during the past 200 years of colonisation. We needed ways to reflect on our ongoing part in this as white people.

Meanwhile, individualist market-driven ideologies pushed governments towards economic and social policies that undermined previous social contracts, inflicting accelerating traumas on the earth, her creatures and her poorest peoples. As mainstream media took up the populist slogans of global capitalism, progressive movements and ideas faced stiffer headwinds.

‘Despair and Empowerment’ and ‘Deep Ecology’ workshops were enormously empowering, yet rarely allowed time to immerse in the Going Forth section of the work. What other ways could we sustain activists in ‘the mouth of the tiger’ across all domains of change from those campaigning on front lines, to those changing hearts and minds through cultural / spiritual activities, to those beavering away at lonely desks?

We discovered that it was sometimes our wounds which drew us to be change workers, or set the frantic pace of our work.

We discovered that it was sometimes our wounds which drew us to be change workers, or set the frantic pace of our work. We needed more ways to explore healing within our social context, to create a positive and sustainable culture of activism.

Katrina’s share house in the tiny Northern NSW village of The Channon became a fertile hub that supported social change. From here, our team (2) published a quarterly magazine, Interhelp News, while collecting and distributing written ‘tools for social change’, as well as continuing to lead Work that Reconnects (WTR) workshops. We organised and facilitated seventeen annual ‘Interhelp Gatherings’ soon renamed ‘Heart Politics Conferences’ (3), which generated gatherings in other parts of the country, including Maleny where Joanna was the keynote speaker in 1997. Katrina published In the Tiger’s Mouth: An Empowerment Guide for Social Action (Shields, 1993), still a relevant resource for activist wellbeing. 

Joanna Macy wrote in her preface to In the Tiger’s Mouth:

We need a recipe book that connects the personal with the political, the inner with the outer. We need a compilation of easy, practical methods for embarking on social action, and sustaining and enjoying it, so that it is no longer seen as a daunting, demanding exercise in self-sacrifice. We need pointers for finding our own deep sources of energy and vision, so that our work for the world runs like an ever refreshing stream through our lives….so that the greatest challenge of our time can also be our greatest joy – to join together in the healing of our world.

Heart Politics c.1996. Carson, Richard Jones, Christabelle, Chamarette, Katrina

The 4-day residential Heart Politics gatherings (2) facilitated experiential immersion in these and other ‘nourishing recipes’ for up to 90 participants each year. They were not-for-profit events held in nature-suffused, low-cost venues with a sliding fee scale to subsidise young people and those on low incomes. Fran Peavey, US Interhelp colleague of Joanna’s and author of Heart Politics (Peavey, 1986) was the keynote speaker in November 1989. Amazingly, especially to our two young German participants, the Berlin Wall fell during this Conference, to much cheering and joyful weeping.

Was this the longed-for end of The Cold War? Partially. But, as Fran later taught us to chant with a raised fist and her cheeky grin, “The People, united, sometimes win and sometimes lose!” We learned that hard lesson in 2003 when 36 million people around the world, marching against the impending war on Iraq, were ignored by their leaders. With climate change looming as the greatest challenge modern humans have faced, we were certainly on this journey for the long haul.

Heart Politics gatherings were for anyone responding to their impulses for positive social change and environmental protection – from tentative beginners unsure of their contribution to seasoned activists in need of sustenance to isolated individuals working for change within system.

The four-part spiral of the WTR was an organising principle in the design of these process-oriented events; after our traditional ‘Welcome to Country’, we began with ‘The Milling’.  We built a strong safe container for a holistic activism, welcoming the presence of strengths, vulnerabilities, creativity, sensuality and spirituality, as we explored our responses to challenges in the world and the roles and actions to which we were called.

This was an opportunity to explore the personal dimensions of political and social action in its many forms, in an open-hearted way…

An important part of creating that safety was an agreement that there would be no recruiting for causes or debating about issues. Participants came as individuals, not as representatives of an organisation. This was an opportunity to explore the personal dimensions of political and social action in its many forms, in an open-hearted way, with a strong emphasis on compassionate action (towards oneself and others) and non-polarising change methodologies. 

Joanna’s three-part model was one of the frameworks for personal enquiry into our activist roles. Were we drawn to contribute via ‘Holding actions in defence of life’, or ‘Transforming the foundations of our common life’ or ‘Shifting our perceptions and values’, or a combination? Another helpful model we explored was Bill Moyer’s Four Roles of Activism (Moyer, 2001): the effective and ineffective expressions of the roles of Rebel, Citizen, Change Agent and Reformer. 

The beating pulse of our gatherings were the Heart Circles.

Storytelling and listening were key elements of the conferences. The beating pulse of our gatherings were the Heart Circles. They derived from the Truth Mandala and New Zealand Maori welcoming circles (4). Each participant spoke their heart truth in that moment. Between speakers, poetry or fragments of song were offered. 

 Spontaneous ‘Out of the Hat Stories’ were rich and moving. Each year, some participants’ names were drawn from a hat, an invitation to succinctly encapsulate a ‘success or challenge’ of that year. If your name was called, you could decide whether to speak or pass. If you passed, you had one more opportunity to speak before the next name was drawn out. Few people passed, and it was amazing how often a story was just the right one for that moment. 

Story-telling processes helped less articulate people to give voice and context to their hopes, challenges and successes.

Many of us were trained in Playback Theatre (5), where our audiences’ stories came back to them as moving, funny and beautiful improvised theatre, illuminating the human condition while building empathy. Story-telling processes helped less articulate people to give voice and context to their hopes, challenges and successes.

Throughout the gathering, facilitators and/or participants offered short workshops, skill development or discussion groups. Sometimes pre-programmed, or using Open Space Technology (6) where participants designed their own learning. 

Daily support groups with trained facilitators were reflective spaces to process responses. A ‘Listening Post’ comprised of two members of the organising group and two participant volunteers offered yet another way to raise any problems or offer suggestions. The whole conference modelled creative processes interspersed with times of hilarity, relaxation, singing and sharing culture, inspiring healthier ‘ecologies’ in activist movements.

The ripples of participants’ experiences, the facilitation skills and tools learned, and particularly the deep listening ‘Heart Circles’ spread into many other networks and forums for change workers in Australia and New Zealand. This immersion in experiential learning and culture-building worked directly against the dominant culture that had taught us to solve problems abstractly, competitively and alone. Collaborative intelligence gave rise to fresh ideas, strengthening networks and generating surprising synergies. Many activists planned annual leave around this opportunity for re-inspiration, renewal and recommitment.

‘Support and Accountability’ groups and ‘Clearness Processes’ were other important ways our Interhelp team sustained each other through ups and downs.  We met regularly in groups of four or five, bringing good food and our intentions for positive participation in our communities and environments. Members’ helpful perspectives came from current experiences in activism on diverse ‘fronts’. Each person in turn held the focus, reflecting on directions, goals, effectiveness, rough points and growing edges. Our companions, taking into account all the dimensions of our lives, stood so close behind us, “the only way we could move was forward” (Green, Woodrow, & Peavey, 1986), except for those inevitable times when we needed to fall back into supportive arms – and rest. 

Tova Green, another US Interhelp member, attended several Heart Politics Conferences, becoming part of our organising team while living in the share house.  Fran Peavey’s excellent activist tool, ‘Strategic Questioning’ appears in Green’s book, Insight and Action (1994, coauthored by Peter Woodrow and Fran Peavy).

We later formed The Social Change Training & Resource Centre, providing activist groups with training in good meeting skills, conflict resolution, strategic planning, strategic questioning, and more. Other workshops continued the theme of activist support and burnout prevention, using WTR processes: ‘How to ‘Burn without Incineration’, ‘Taking Heart in Tough Times’ and ‘Our Power and Our Passion’. These introduced elements of the WTR to participants from professional groups, NGOs and Government Departments, reframing language to make it contextually relevant but equally powerful. We validated pain for the world, introduced systems thinking and networking across ‘silos’, helping people ‘see with new eyes’ while embedding empowering processes for going forth.

Generational perspectives help long-haul social activists persevere through many setbacks.

Few significant systemic problems and traumas are solved in one lifetime. Generational perspectives help long-haul social activists persevere through many setbacks. A lifelong effective activist friend says, “We can live to change the world for the better. Even if you could convince me that we are doomed, it would make no difference. I’d still do my work because I derive more satisfaction from acting for positive change” (Carson, 1998). Resilience is even more necessary now when immediate coronavirus-caused chaos is backgrounded by the slower deeper crises of climate change, calling even more urgently for us to ‘hear within ourselves the sounds of our earth crying’ (7).

Crises present opportunities for our collaborative intelligence to discover emergent possibilities we can’t see alone, giving form to impulses to help and heal, directing tentative steps towards regenerative life-sustaining systems. 

Whatever your journey on this uncertain terrain, we hope you find good comrades to share it. Tell your stories, support each other’s highest values, share your knowledge and skills, ask questions, listen, learn together, grieve losses, celebrate every small success and remember to have some fun! While the state of the world calls loudly for billions of ‘ordinary activists’ to step forward, it calls equally strongly for giving caring attention to activists’ wellbeing. Even in the Tiger’s Mouth, we can thrive.

Endnotes:

1.Interhelp USA – https://interhelpnetwork.org/about-us-2/the-history-of-interhelp

2. Members of the core organising team came and went over 17 years some not already mentioned are Simon Clough, Stu Anderson, Ken Golding, Carol Perry, Michelle Wainwright, Barbara Worthington, Ellie Wilson & Garth Luke.

3. The term Heart Politics Conferences had more resonance, as the New Zealand network discovered.

4.The Heart Circles are described in more detail by Vivian Hutchinson, a co-instigator of the Heart Politics Conference in New Zealand: http://www.jobsletter.org.nz/hpx/hpx02.htm

5. Playback Theatre https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Playback_Theatre

6. Open Space Technology developed by Harrison Owen: https://en.wikipedia.or./wiki/Open_Space_Technology

7. Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh said, ‘What we most need to do is to hear within us the sound of the earth crying.’ https://oneearthsangha.org/articles/spiritual-ecology/

References:

Carson, Lyn. (1998) Towards a Politics of the Heart: Reflections of an Activist, New Renaissance: A Journal for Social & Spiritual Awakening, Vol 7, No 4, Issue 23, UK.

Green, Tova & Woodrow, Peter, & Peavey, Fran. (1994) Insight and Action: How to discover and support a life of integrity and commitment to change. New Society Publishers, PA.

Macy, Joanna. (1983). Despair & Personal Power in the Nuclear Age, New Society Publishers.

Moyer, Bill et al. (2001) Doing Democracy, New Society Publishers, or see excerpt: https://commonslibrary.org/the-four-roles-of-social-activism/

Peavey, Fran with Levy Myra & Varon Charles. (1986) Heart Politics. New Society Publishers..

Peavey, Fran, https://commonslibrary.org/strategic-questioning/

Shields, Katrina. (1993) In the Tiger’s Mouth – An Empowerment Guide for Social Action. New Society Publishers, available in hard copy or e-book from The Change Agency: https://thechangeagency.org/


Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut

Head shot photo of Bobbi and Katrina

Bobbi Allan and Katrina Shields live in Mullumbimby, Australia.  They were founding members of Interhelp Australia, organising Joanna Macy’s Australian tours since 1985 as well as annual Heart Politics Conferences.  Both are skilled facilitators who co-founded the Social Change Training and Resource Centre and have led WTR in many forms.  Katrina has been an Occupational Therapist, community development worker, sustainability educator and researcher and is the author of 6 non-fiction books, including In the Tiger’s Mouth: An empowerment guide for social action.  Bobbi’s professional work was in political research, then in training and development. She is a Buddhist teacher and activist who co-developed and led Stillness in Action retreats for 17 years.  She now trains Elementary School teachers to teach Mindfulness in their classrooms and teaches Ethics in schools. Bobbi and Katrina are still voluntary activists – Katrina with Zero Emissions Byron and Bobbi on the issue of refugees.

And Flowers will Grow in Syria

By Annette Darity Garber

Recorded by author

With blood still wet in the streets
              and guns still held to blinded eyes,
              bent down at mamas, papas, children, 
              anyone with the wrong name, the wrong allegiance, 
              or lacking the impossible papers,
 with bombs still dropping, still buried on the borders,
              still blowing the limbs from bodies of brothers
with hatred still rampant
             and terror still strangling 
             hope from the little ones’ eyes
with a people still on the run, still without a home, 
             still unwanted, forgotten,

how could anyone 
             ever believe – or even hope –  
             that peace will reign again?

Such audacity. 

Would it not be better
             to turn away,
             to numb,
             to build walls, like the nations do, 
at the edges of our hearts, 
             to give way to despair, or defeat, 
             or worse, 
             indifference,
or perhaps to join the resistance,
             fighting violence with violence, 
             a merry-go-round of unending, 
             re-venging,
             ever-losing, 
             bloodshed?

Or…. could Resistance be this:

to hold the outrageous belief 
             that flowers 
             will one day grow 
             where bullets have been planted,

             that sheep 
             will one day graze
             where battlefields now lay,

             that feet 
             will one day dance
             where bodies now lie broken,

that healing streams 
             will one day go
             where rivers of blood now flow,

             that music will play, 
             and children will pray
             and weapons will be traded for books,
             that enemies might yet be called brothers.

That peace will reign, 
              peace will reign, 
                            peace will reign.

And while we hold this vision as an offering, 
              this prayer of imagination,
let us also
             roll up our sleeves,
             dig deep inside our pockets,
             build bridges for the ignorant,
             tell stories of the exiled.

Let us widen our tables
            and invite our refugee neighbors 
            to our fiestas.

Let us visit their wide tables, too,
             kneeling as listeners and learners
             to their stories that must be told.

Let us hold hands.
Let us join the revolution of peace-making.
Let us imagine a new way of being human.

Let us be visionaries,
            daring to believe 
            that love will have the final say.
Let us plant flowers 
            where bullets now lay.

© Annette Garber, 2020


Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut

Annette Darity Garber is a writer, educator, and spiritual companion residing on Lenni Lenape’ land, also known as Berks County, Pennsylvania. Combining her passion for the outdoors, with training in spiritual direction and eco-therapy, Annette seeks to invite others into a sacred and mutually healing relationship with the natural world. Annette grew up with a love for the earth, a curiosity about other cultures, and a passion for justice and compassion for humanity. These themes infuse her writing and give shape to her being and doing in the world.

Anything Can Happen

by Judith Myerson

Recorded by author

Yin and Yang

Yin and Yang by Judith Myerson

Anything can happen any moment… 
a sudden stroke 
stopping you  
in your tracks 
just where you  
are  
or 
a stroke  
of insight  
that  
opens wide 
a  
million  
possibilities 

Anything can happen any moment… 
a fire 
that burns down your house so all you own 
is gone 
or 
sets you free 
because now 
you have  
nothing  
left  
to lose 

Here  
for just  
a fleeting moment 
in a sudden flash of light all that is 
and once thought 
solid 
vaporizes  

with just one 
flick of switch  
and intention … 
leaving only  
shadow on stone 
and 
the thought 
arising… 
that 

Any moment 
maybe
Anything can happen 

And together  
we will 
look and 
see  
and do  
it  
differently… 

And maybe 
turn  
the world around 
into  
a place 
where…  

Anything can happen  

 © 2020, Judith Myerson 


Recorded by Carmen Rumbaut

 

 

Judy Myerson is a retired psychotherapist who loves spending time in nature with birds, plants, and all her non-human relations. She is also an Order of Interbeing member and sangha facilitator in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism. She trained in the 2019 year long WTR on-line facilitator development program, and currently is in the Trauma Resource Institute’s Community Resilience Model teacher training program. Judy has been spending much of this last traumatic/remarkable year looking deeply and seeing with new eyes how she can best serve to create a more beautiful, just and sustainable world for her children’s children and all future generations. She also finds much joy whenever she can, writing and taking pictures of the birds at her feeders and the beautiful Bashakill Marsh, not far from her home in Pine Bush, NY.

For Parents: Intergenerational Trauma and Lineage Work

by Jo delAmor

Recorded by the author

Trauma is a wound. How I think about it is that if I wounded you, if I cut your flesh, the healing would involve scar tissue forming. If the wound was great enough, you’d get a big scar, and it would be without nerve endings so you wouldn’t feel, and it would be much less flexible than your normal tissue. Trauma is when there is a loss of feeling and there is a reduced flexibility in responding to the world. Trauma is a psychic wound that hardens you psychologically that then interferes with your ability to grow and develop. ~ Dr. Gabor Maté

We are all living with trauma. Being born into a society that is based on power, domination and disconnection has embedded trauma deeply into each of us. Whenever our basic human needs of safety, belonging and meaning are interrupted, either through violence or negligence, we are wounded and carry that wound into our lives as trauma. There’s a wide variety of types and degrees of intensity of the trauma we carry and the effects it has on us and our parenting.

There is trauma in all of our lineages. The brutal history of conquest and colonization that has created the conditions we find ourselves in today has affected all of our families and ancestors in various different ways. The violence of the Power Over Paradigm is so acutely at odds with our natural human needs that both those who perpetrate the violence and those who are the victims of it suffer deep wounding and internalize trauma. That trauma is then passed down from generation to generation and exacerbated as wounded people raise children whose needs are, in turn, neglected or violated.

This trauma cycle is the root cause of many (if not all) of the harmful and abusive behaviors that traumatize children. As they say, “hurt people hurt people.” Likewise, hurt parents hurt kids.

As they say, “hurt people hurt people.” Likewise, hurt parents hurt kids.

Whether we are carrying high intensity personal trauma or the more general trauma of being raised in our wounded society, we can actively work to interrupt the passage of trauma along our lineage through the way we raise our kids.  If we seek to minimize the trauma our children take on through their childhoods, our first step is to recognize that we are the link between generations and substantial healing of these deep wounds can happen in our own lives if we bring our attention to it.

As you raise your children, your personal and intergenerational traumas will be triggered again and again. Each stage or threshold they pass through will bring you right back to the parallel moment in your own life. If you can steady yourself in the awareness that each of these moments is an opportunity for healing, you can transcend the fear and panic of the trigger and respond instead of react. Depending on the severity of the trauma you may want to seek out professional support to guide you through deep healing work as you traverse these thresholds. In each of these moments you are given the opportunity to relive your own experience and tend to the unmet needs of your inner child, both by doing your own personal healing work and also by taking care of your children in the ways that you weren’t cared for. 

If you’re paying attention, raising kids will bring everything into the light for you.

Your children will be a mirror for you as they grow. Their behavior or attitudes will reflect things to you that you may have long since relegated to the shadows and blind spots of your psyche.  If you’re paying attention, raising kids will bring everything into the light for you. If you are truly committed to healing trauma within your lineage, try to see what they show you. Notice and accept and do the work of learning how to respond in the most loving and healing way that you can. 

We have all inherited trauma and experienced personal wounding and we are all passing it down to our kids. We can’t completely prevent this. No matter how “perfectly” we parent there will be some passing down of trauma. This healing work is not about perfection or purity. It’s about awareness and the willingness to do our best to take responsibility for our own healing work and give our children as much support and resourcing as possible to tend to theirs. It is lineage work and legacy work that extends well beyond our own lifetimes. 

This healing work involves shaking ourselves awake right in the midst of the nightmare of disconnection that the Power Over Paradigm perpetuates, and trying our best to see clearly. It is about reclaiming our personal will and sovereignty, starting to live our lives with dignity and self-love and behaving like the holy beings we are. Our children will benefit greatly from every little bit we can possibly move in this direction. 

This healing work won’t erase what is. It won’t absolve or remove the long history of harm from which we descend. This healing work is not about bypassing the harm that has been done and putting a pretty spin on it all by pretending that it’s “all good” now.
The healing work I’m talking about is metabolizing the grief, pain, confusion and fear that’s been handed to us. Transmuting it. Composting it and planting seeds of new possibilities in the soil it makes to nourish our children and their children.

The more of this type of work we do before and during our children’s lives, the more space and possibility they will have in their lives.

The more of this type of work we do before and during our children’s lives, the more space and possibility they will have in their lives. The less time they’ll have to spend battling the same old battles that have been passed on from generation to generation. They’ll be emancipated from whatever part of the work you’ve been able to do and they’ll have that much more strength to do the part of the work that will be left for them to do. 

Through this process they’ll also learn from your example. They’ll come to understand that life is about learning and healing, taking good care of Life, working hard to keep Life living and making things better and more beautiful for the ones yet to be. Having learned from your example, they’ll be able to journey even deeper into the healing process for your lineage. 

All the healing work that each of us does permeates all the way through our lineage, back through generations of ancestors and down through generations of future beings.  Rooted in Deep Time, we are radically interconnected and interdependent with all those who came before and all those who will come after.  And since time isn’t actually linear, we’re really all here together facing these wounds and these opportunities to heal. 

As the one who is alive at this time and actively parenting, you are the one in your lineage who has the greatest access and agency to engage in that healing work on behalf of your entire family. 

References:

Dr Gabor Maté, interview on Human Window on Childhood Trauma, The Real Cause of Anxiety and Our ‘Insane’ Culture.   https://humanwindow.com/dr-gabor-mate-interview-childhood-trauma-anxiety-culture/

 


Recorded by author

Jo delAmor is a mother to two young adults. Over the last 20 years she has also cared for hundreds of children of all ages in a variety of situations from a co-parenting community to public schools and in-home nannying.

Jo has been facilitating the Work That Reconnects since 2013 with a focus on dismantling oppression, transforming our cultural paradigm and supporting parents through these unprecedented and challenging times. She has woven the insights and practical tools she’s gathered through these experiences into her practice of New Paradigm Parenting and her forthcoming book “Raising Children in the Midst of Global Crisis: A Compassionate Guidebook for Parenting in Turbulent Times