We have started hosting "Grief & Gratitude" Lodges here in Jefferson County Washington -- a community effort for holding space for each others' grief -- and I am deeply appreciating the tone in which we are trying this... that in our culture, we have forgotten how to do this, how to stop what we are "doing" to be with each other when something happens that stirs the deepest parts of us. So we say when we are beginning our ceremony, that we don't know what we're doing, and we're kind of making this up as we go. And stating it in this way I think connects us to the threads of humanity, where we remember that we need to call out for help in remembering how to do this, and that we have always called out for help -- from the guiding spirits, from all the beings who make Life possible, from any name we have called the divine, from our ancestors, and from each other. There is wisdom in knowing that we cannot do this alone. We can try. We can cry for hours and days and weeks alone, and it is honorable to choose to feel, and out of it we may realize how many hundreds of thousands of others are grieving the same way. Alone.
We do have guidance from those who have shared rituals for this work, Melidoma & Sobonfu Somé, Stephen Jenkinsen, Francis Weller, our dear elder Laurence Cole, and the courage of everyone in our community who is choosing to show up for this work. It is courage because it is, in a way, still an act of independence, to choose to share grief, and support grief in others, when today it is not so automatic, not so readily available, not often modeled.
Why has this happened? Why if all of consciousness lives in each of us must we struggle and suffer and come so far into a place of wreckage of the earth and our bodies and our spirits?
Children are naturally hungry for understanding how to Live on this planet. It was a five year old I heard wailing with his whole heart who inspired the poem "Galactic Grievers". Two mornings ago, I sat on my front porch, on the phone with my mentor, and I had been crying for ten or fifteen minutes before I realized that the 4 year old I live with was watching me from the other porch. This child will walk with me in the forest and when a spider web crosses our path, he will follow it to find the spider and watch it for a while, before we gently break the strand and move along. He wants to see the world. He wants to see grief. He doesn't interrupt because he is learning. I don't hide because I love him enough to show him the truth about my life and what I feel. I keep crying. Later, when I have stopped, and he has stepped into the yard, we blow kisses to each other with smiles. But both the crying and the smiling are happening at once, in this life we are sharing together. His seven-month-old baby sister shows us frequently that our capacity to laugh and cry simultaneously is a natural human ability.
And out of this symphony of Being, music carries the revelations of our life into songs we sing and share with each other. Songs which echo our griefs and songs which carry the lessons we draw from them. Great thanks to music for holding us.
Grief and Praise -- Martín Prechtel says -- they sleep in the same bed. Our heart and our lungs rest on the bed of our diaphragm, and the same muscles are used, our same abilities are exercised, when we truly grieve, and when we are truly joyful.
We are always all of our ages. There is a child inside all of us which longs to understand how to cope with living in this world in a way that uplifts everyone in our lives. In a way that honors the Love we carry and wish to express, for we all have Love to express, and we all long for our Love to be needed. There is an elder inside of us that knows how.
All place-based cultures through time knew ritual to be work, important work, the work of tending to our grief, others' grief, the stuff of Life on this planet. It has been said that seventy percent of all life was preparing for ritual, doing ritual, or processing ritual. By creating space to fully Love that which has been so meaningful to us, we remember that this life does have meaning, and that our connections with one another and our connection to our self and our unique expression of life matters.
I sense nothing about that has changed. We are each, seemingly alone, as individuals, experiencing a life in which seventy percent of our life is preparing for ritual, doing ritual, or processing ritual. We have all been preparing for the ritual of coming together to create community, because first we had to know loneliness. There are billions of people experiencing loneliness. I have experienced loneliness. Part of my loneliness rises up in a desire to share these words with you. Because I know you will understand. Because I know you have loved, and lost, and dreamed. You've been disappointed, and you've been celebrated, and you've felt profound things, and all of them have passed in a wave of impermanence that left you feeling hollow. Because I know how meaningful it has been for me to hear another person tell me how I've made a difference in their life, and how it's inspired me to share with others what I have learned from our connection, and to share the songs of our Place and the culture we are creating.
There is a courage to use words honestly about what we feel, to remember that we all feel the same thing. To sing our stories alive. The journey we all go through is so similar and yet for each of us long to know that our personal visions matter. We must hold the other up in their visions too for their life, so we can experience what it is like for others to hold us in ours.
So we know we are needed. So we know we need each other.
We are all involved in the evolution of the human species. There is nothing wrong with what we feel or what we have done. Love has the power to transform us. In an instant, we can feel everything that has ever been felt, and know that it was true, and what we feel in this Earth Life brings us all simultaneously to laughter, to tears, to rage, to resting, to curiosity, to great thankfulness, and to peace, because there is space for it, just as the Earth has demonstrated, there is space for it, and we are allowed to feel these things.
Have you not felt all of these things?
Barbara Kingsolver writes, "In my opinion, when you find yourself laughing and crying both at once, that is the time to write a poem." I think she is right, although, it is difficult to find words for the feeling that all of life is always happening at once. We are all one consciousness, and all of time past and future exists inside of each of us, already. It is what makes us able to make great leaps in evolution and growth inside of ourselves, when we let our bodies tell us what we need... when these moments happen... of simultaneous union of feelings... I find I almost cannot remember what happened, because it lives as an experience inside of me, and therefore in all of consciousness, and it doesn't need words to be a poem. All of life becomes a poem and the way it is written is in the living landscape of the world we are creating with our Kindness.
Every person is a piece of one great consciousness, near and far, everyone and everything living, and the people we are physically sharing our life with are worthy of our attention, praise, gratitude, respect, and courage to connect with in a true way. Celebrate where our visions align and let go with grace where our threads lead us in different directions, knowing that we are still all part of the same cloth and will never be disconnected from each other, so we don't need to sacrifice our personal expression for fear of loosing connection.
We can only become more connected. More embedded.
I feel it almost as a promise to know that this world can only become more beautiful.
It is a worthy struggle, to go inside oneself and into the chaos of darkness, and then emerge into the physical world to open the eyes to the eyes of another and speak words of Kindness. Our actions may be only for ourselves, but our words and our Love for others live eternally. They will live forever in the memories others, and in the landscape itself, which will provide the material for our expression, and the physical world in which our physical lives depend.
What is it that you need? It is the need of everyone.
And soon everyone's life, through all their struggles, will be living proof of miracles.