The relationship each of us individually has with our planet's existence is looking more and more like that of the relationship with a beloved family member or friend who has been told they have a potentially fatal disease.
It occurred to me today, in the short pauses between the focused preoccupations and distractions of working, that myself along with all the people I know are in the various and well documented stages of grief at the beginning of what could be our last 'Hurrah' as a civilization - if not a species.
This writing is not about Doomesday, or loosing hope.
It's just that when you can place yourself within a context powerfully and with presence of mind/heart, there is a trans-formative alchemy that seems to occur that can engender love and profound connection and healing in it's wake
And although in my life I have not yet had to undergo the kinds of horrific social, environmental, planetary and political circumstances that many humans and animals today are suffering, I understand it to be a near certainty that the conditions of my future and the futures of many like me, are becoming increasingly less certain and certainly less on the trajectory I would consider 'normal' given my past.
I thought to myself today, in between the logical and moderately creative demands of exercising my profession, that it might be a good idea to take note of the more inspiring stories we have in our culture about surviving through illness or about majestically meeting the process of dying eye to eye and with love and acceptance.
In my cultural cache I have stories like 'Tuesday's with Morrie', or the writings of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross who was a pioneer of Hospice Care, or my experience of being in community with Jo Carson as she bravely journeyed into and eventually across the river Styx.
It always seemed to me that the saddest stories always are about the folks whose own denial blinded them to being present in what might have otherwise been the most profoundly moving experience of their lives.
Although a necessary part of the larger process and beautifully tragic in it's own right, denial takes away the ability to respond in real time to the circumstances and hand, and also hampers the ability to determine what is real.
Particularly when the denial phase of the grieving process is not passed through before the circumstances of loss or redemption from that loss come to pass, the process of moving forward or healing seems greatly burdened.
There is a book that I came across a few years ago called Mystical Hope: Trusting the Mercy of God by Cynthia Bourgeault that helped me come to terms with and become better at finding hope in situations that seem hopeless.
I think one thing this this book does well is to define the terms that would otherwise feel religiously jargon-y in a language that an atheist would appreciate. She speaks in a language that is human and from a point of reference that is strong and insightful.
These days I scan my media sources, and talk to my friends, and there is a pendulum in the stories and blogs and articles I read that swings between denial and apathy and concern/worry/fear.
I think what I would like to hear and read are stories of people courageously and directly looking at the circumstances that we are finding ourselves in with profound grief and hope and compassion for what we all are having to come to terms with in this epoch of existence.
When we can let go of the expectation that the future is going to present itself like a logical extension of the past, we no longer feel attached to the old dreams. A certain magic and power is generated from that presence of mind/heart that enables us to respond within our circumstances with humanity and grace and bravery – even in the face of the unimaginable.
I think in short my question is this: If we cannot, as a species, courageously loose ourselves from the grips of self destruction (and I cultivate hope that we can), can we also or at the very least, together, hold and appreciate and celebrate and feel the beauty of what we are loosing?