Monday, April 10, 2017

Returning to our Mother Earth - so that we may continue living here

The film below is a story. It is a story about our relationship with our real Mother.

If you've had a good relationship with your personal Mother, if she has loved you unconditionally, nurtured you, supported your growing and maturing, nudging you out into the world - then you know how powerful that word is.

What Arkan Lushwala says in this film is not just metaphor, not merely romantic and poetic - it is quite literally true. It is materially true, as well as spiritually true. In every way we have come from our Mother. We are birthed from her in a whole series of interconnections across both space and time, and we will return to her, our living energy merged back into hers, when we die. As Thích Nhất Hạnh has said so eloquently: with this understanding, really, when did we begin and when do we end?

I cannot be with you, love you, walk with you, do my work, play with the little one next door, grow food in the garden, unless I exist in the loving embrace of this Mother. We only exist here on this beautiful planet. This is our womb, our place of being, and of our returning.

There are a hundred million stories I could share here, individual stories of people who live consciously in that embrace, who are working to heal a horrifically damaged and pathological relationship with our First Mother. The rape metaphor works all too perfectly here. Think deep sea drilling, think fracking and how they thrust a drill deep into her shale rock formations, first vertically, then horizontally, then forcing water laced with sand and toxins to crack open the rock and release the fossilized remains of ancient life forms, or the gas trapped in the rock for millions of years, so that we can have this industrial consumer life.

This violence of humans, this brutally destructive violence of humans - breaking open, thrusting in, pouring contaminants, taking what we want, spewing carbon to manufacture what ought never to have existed (synthetic chemicals, plastics, ethanol, RoundUp Ready, GMOs), buying the thing without any thought to what it cost the planet, what it cost life, somewhere else in order for you to have it...

Living with no awareness that we are ravaging the very source of life, and that when we kill that source, we have killed ourselves. When we poison the source, we poison ourselves. When we diminish the source of life, we ourselves are diminished.

Credit: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
I feel overwhelmed with this truth right now. Just today, while U.S. cable networks were again fixated on Sean Spicer's press conference and our narcissistic, nationalistic obsession with ourselves, I was watching a tragic story on BBC of the mass bleaching of coral along a 900-mile stretch of the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's eastern coast. Coral can recover from bleaching if not too severe or prolonged, but since this is occurring in this area two years in a row, scientists fear that the coral, a life form of great beauty and complexity, may be harmed to the point where it cannot recover and that the coral will die.

This is death by global warming, death to living beings by our industrial/consumer world. [See the BBC story here]

So many stories about how we live here, and most of them these days are tragic. I won't stay there - in the tragedy and pathology - because that is not the only thing going on. There is meaning behind the term, "new creation." But what I also want to share from time to time is how urgent it is that we write new stories on the planet. I want to share that this is not just a practical reality of living beyond the Earth's biocapacity, but that this is ultimately about a deep relationship that we have been tearing to shreds and that this relationship is in need of healing. Think "truth and reconciliation commissions." Think "forgiveness projects." Think projects of restorative justice, or repentance. Think how every one of these processes begins with acknowledging the truth of what we have done. The healing begins in that moment of truth about ourselves.

Think getting down on our knees to beg forgiveness for what we have done in return for what we were given so that we could be alive here. Think about how we acknowledge what we have done and with deep humility resolve to change our lives. [As example of what I mean. Remember this? I have a photo of it on the wall by my computer here: Wesley Clark Jr asks for forgiveness from Leonard Crow Dog]

So much healing to do. It's hard to look at it all, to face it full on. But this is work we must do, and do soon. If we can do it together, with one another, in communities of healing and transformation, we may find meaning and purpose flooding back into our lives like nothing we have ever known before.

May this short video help inspire us to begin that journey - while there is still time for us.

~ Margaret Swedish 

Friday, March 10, 2017

A garden story

This story is mine. It's about being a gardener, and how the meaning of that changed over the decades. It's about what I garden now, not just out of the rich soil of one garden plot, but also in the work I do in the context of this stunning collapse of the old political culture of the U.S. I've been a gardener for a long time, but it means something different now, coming as it does at the same time as our human destruction of planetary systems is starting to really impact everything and everyone. It's all happening so fast now and the gardening metaphor helps me see and understand it - and fear it less.

Collapse is coming for a reason. It is inevitable now. It needs to happen. It will not be pretty.

It seems to me that the essential gardening question we face in the context of collapse is this: what are we cultivating to replace it?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When the story of this time is written...

When the story of this time is written, how will humans account for it? What will be the highlights of the narrative? It's hard to see where this is going. It's hard to even see exactly how to proceed, though proceed we must, and with vision, with a sense of prophetic witness, with courage.

There have been thousands of stories since we last posted on this page. Like many of us, I feel the deep sense of overwhelm as wave after wave washes over our time, rearranging the landscape again and again and again...

Raging wildfires and record-breaking brutal heat in Chile and Australia, California's drought turned to raging torrents, floods, mudslides and one fine example of the neglect of infrastructure at the Oroville Dam.

Think of the stories embedded here - of people displaced, of people whose homes and towns are now ashes, lives upended. Thousands of stories of loss, of coping, of resilience and despair.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What do people mean when they say "we need a new story?"

I've been thinking about this a lot, because it comes up all the time in spiritual or cultural circles around the "new universe story," or what some refer to as the "new cosmology" (actually, there is nothing "new" about it at all; it's a fairly old story, about 13.8 billion years; we're just discovering it now.).

Sometimes I get concerned that this can easily become "trendy," that it can result in people spending a lot of time talking about story rather than actually creating one, as if that is change-making in itself, when what is really needed are people out there at the roots of the culture upending one way of life based on an "old" story and making a new one by writing it with their lives, their radical actions, their willingness to create new ways of life by living into them.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A new creation story to shed light in this season of darkness

I don't mind the darkness of the season. I love the slow tilting of the sunlight through the year, this way and that, the changes it brings to our daily lives, one of the few reminders of what we can't control no matter how hard we try - that we are OF the Earth and cannot escape that magnificent, humbling, wonderfully limiting reality. The more we try to separate from it, the more pathological our economic culture becomes.

And so, this time of year has always given way to great stories that humans make up about the "light in the darkness," about the solstice, about how the promise of light's return also holds the promise of warmth, renewal of life, the next harvest. Sky gods and moon gods and myths of return, or the metaphor that this seasonal moment heralds a special coming into the world of light in the harsher darkness and cold of the winter months.
Photo: Josh Morgan for The Huffington Post

We humans need a lot of renewal, a lot of healing. We westerners in particular went off on a long path of separation over thousands of years - conquest and empires, one tribe crushing another, warrior gods who fight on our side, but certainly not on the other. We stole people from one continent and sold them into slavery to become laborers on this continent, and we are still living out of the damage and trauma of that story, often a tension between denial, resistance to truth, and the claim of those descendants of African heritage to insist on their humanity, their dignity, and their freedom.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Prophecy of "the seventh generation"

This is a beautiful story and I wanted to share it here. From the linked article:

"There is a prophecy among Native tribes called 'the seventh generation,' which speaks of a time thought to be seven generations after first contact with Europeans, when indigenous youth and allies from all races come together to enact a new age of healing and rebirth for Native people and Turtle Island.

"Lakota leader Crazy Horse spoke of his vision of that prophecy with the following words:
'Upon suffering beyond suffering, the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. In that day there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things, and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom.'"
What's going on in North Dakota is more significant than we even know, perhaps more significant than those who started this movement even knew. Now it's becoming clear that this is the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Our task as European Americans, descendants of the conquerors or beneficiaries of the conquest, is a humble one: to step back from our role as cultural leaders or "determiners," as architects of this western economic/consumer paradigm, and to come to those of Crazy Horse's people, the descendants from and inheritors of the legacy of genocide, the legacy of those who severed the connections between the human and Turtle Island - and ask for this wisdom.

They are repairing the breach. They are showing us again how to live here.

Read the whole story at this link:  

'We opened eyes': at Standing Rock, my fellow Native Americans make history

Photo: LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard

Posted by Margaret Swedish


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ceremony at the Sacred Fire

Friends, when it comes to stories of 'New" Creation, this is a really good one - a story of solidarity, healing, and courage. It is written by Barbara With of La Pointe WI.

Today, Chief Arvol Looking Horse held a ceremony around the sacred fire. The purpose was to hear a report from the UN representatives who have been investigating the allegations of human rights abuses and to bless the belongings of the people who had been jailed.

The UN representative, only introduced as Roberto, announced that the result of their investigation is that a representative of the US Secretary of State’s office will be arriving in a few days and more investigations will ensue. She is also going to facilitate a meeting with the Standing Rock Sioux, Morton County Sheriff, and a representative from DAPL. This is guardedly optimistic news.

The Morton County Sheriff returned the possessions of those who were jailed. They were thrown into plastic bags marked with the numbers the prisoners had on their arms. Because possessions, especially clothing, hold the energy of the owner, it was important to bless and cleanse the belongings as if they were living beings.
Photo: Barbara With

Also all the possessions from the north Treaty Camp that were torn apart in last week’s attack were put into four storage crates that were being brought back to camp that night, including teepees and poles. They called for four volunteers with pick ups with trailers to go retrieve them after the ceremony.

Chief Looking Horse introduced the Buffalo clan singers, who sang the song of the White Buffalo Calf woman. He then said a long, beautiful prayer in Lakota, while the drummers and singers sang a song about the four directions. We started facing west and slowly turned to all four directions as a young warrior was busy with sweet grass and sage, smudging the pile of plastic bags laid out like body bags with the sacred, cleansing healing smoke.