It’s that time of year again.
I am sat watching the sea, through this beautifully wide window, from a place special to me and to my companion, feeling blessed to be able to be here. Only an hour ago the horizon had disappeared into a myst of sea spray, clouds and wind, the waves beating hard against the rocky shore, splashing onto the road. Will it fill the hollows in between and flood the passages, will it retreat pulling with it what now stands on solid ground, into watery currents… But the tides begin to go back in, slowly, and all feels calmer and safer again, the lights appear in the distance from mainland, the wind is softer, dry land beings here, water dwellers there.
We have arrived here from our flooded home grounds, a repeated scene this Winter we struggle to behold, despite the equally strikingly resilient, generous and compassionate actions of human cooperation everywhere, creating webs of help, reconstruction, fund raising, consciousness activating and down to the ground aiding, feeding and holding. But let’s hold on to this, it will come in handy later on.
Disasters on a larger scale have been known this year, some less ‘natural’ than others, when we look at how much our global misuse, abuse and obtuse exploitation of our earth’s resources has a hand in them. Cause and effect may well have hundreds of years in between them, thousands even, but they show up, sure and precise as only nature can be. This is not negotiable, it is as it is, and we are learning the hard way, the way of the ‘fools’.
Walking along the beautiful shores and hills and river beds covered in heather and other sturdy bushes and trees here these past two days, you can catch a glimpse of a better balance in the living environment, where the torrential rains and the abundance of waters on the land and around it have still not turned into devastating floods. The roots of trees and shrubs hold the ground steady, besides ‘drinking’ the water. The space around the water courses allows for outlets, dispersion, re-channeling.
Elsewhere, just around our homes, bushes and trees have been burnt down to allow for bird shootings we don’t need in order to feed ourselves, for if we knew anything about true hunters we would know that in any population that ever lived in symbiosis with their land and other animals, anything that was taken was also put back, the land attended to so that life could preserve itself. We shoot for fun, and to do so we act as the most obtuse and unknowing of hunters, wasteful, destructive and in fact endangering of the survival of their very own species. For money, for distorted ideas of tradition, for power, for greed.
We can see this very same process in any unnecessary, mindless drilling, deforesting, damming, killing, trading, exhausting life on, above and below the surface of this earth, waging war, fabricating and selling weapons to those we wage war onto, persecuting those we have exploited and reduced to poverty, living and thinking as if privilege will never have any costs for the privileged also, walking this earth as if there even was such a thing as ‘entitlement’ to take endlessly, as if we were exempt from the laws of nature, as if there, anywhere, woods or cities, such a thing like privilege existed at all.
So we are flooded. By waters, by heat, by wars, by the trauma that these times in history are generating and passing on, by the continuous news updates on it all, by the spreading of fear and distress, by knowing and by ‘not’ knowing.
But hold on…..
In these past two days, perhaps because of standing closer to the sources of streaming information about this, I have also felt flooded by the human spirit’s capacity to respond with generosity, creativity and resilience, across diversities and distances and in fact even more resourcefully ‘because’ of these. Looking up from this, the world view fills up with acts of immense courage and healing, of dedication, of barrier braking, of creation, of life saving, of radical integrity, of love and survival in the face of unthinkable circumstances. For this too is what we are capable of, this too mirrors nature’s persistence in carrying on, infiltrating wherever it can, reshaping, recreating, getting through and over, finding ways, returning, producing miracles.
They don’t get broadcast much, we aren’t bombarded with them. Often, in fact more often than not, they are not even visible or known to most. I, for one, sit with many of these miracles, day in day out, in my therapy room, in other work I do, with people in my life, with the wondrous healing power of making music, dancing, singing together, feeling this is the real privilege, this constant remainder that hope is possible, not only, but that it is an inextricable part of nature, of life.
I am not a public talk giver. I myself this year have felt the need to reroute, to go and quench my thirst for inspiration from those writers or talkers in the realm of human spirit that could ignite my own hope, remind me of what deep down our souls know, and who will speak to souls in the ways in which souls can hear and then breathe again in recognition. Of those I listened to, one more than anyone else spoke to my own soul in ways that resonated so deeply it made me jolt from the haze of pointlessness everything seemed to be sinking in then. It was Joanna Macy and her ‘active hope’.
This spells out what sounds like a belief, but is in fact a process at work in nature as in human spirit in forms we can experience continuously at every level, if we let ourselves: the paradoxical truth that it is only when we allow ourselves to fully feel the suffering, the ‘pain of the earth’ and its inhabitants, our own pain, only then we acquire the power of hope. Many of our ‘distractions’ , as well as our acts of blindness and destructions, are lead by the denial of suffering and despair, the denial of pain and mortality, by the fear of these. But if we can learn to fully feel the possibility of sorrow and mortality, then we become huge and spacious, we don’t need to shrink into temporary solutions, to contract into cutting off from it all.
If we can feel this and still remain open, then there is room for compassion, courage and hope. If we can weep with the earth than we are immensely powerful. If we can weep with our fellow humans and other beings, then we have nothing to fear. And when this happens, hope and change become possible.
This is therefore my wish for this year ending and for the new one beginning, for us all everywhere:
That we may learn to stay with the pain of the earth without flinching away until we get to the light
That we may know the true privilege of feeling alive and of knowing the daily miracles of existence up close
That we may create, keep and support the community of fellow life travellers around us that we need to belong, to nourish ourselves and to feel safe and sustained
That we may each find the gifts unique to us and our very own purpose and bring them to our lives and to the world with confidence and joy
That we may always, always know that hope is as natural and legitimate and constant as the setting and rising of the sun and the moon, and the pulsing of the earth, and the sound of the sea
Love to you all
The words of Joanna Macy for you: