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.