Earlier this year at the Wild Mind festival I attended an embodied writing workshop with Maya Ward. As a poet I expected to write poetry. Much to my chagrin what came to me were some cheerful words and a snippet of melody. A week later it was still running around in my head so, even though I didn’t really like the melody, I took the time to sing it out and write some more lyrics.
The resulting song has been a prayer, an affirmation and a blessing. I have sung it to myself and to other people in my life whenever the reminder to surrender was needed. It has brought numerous people to tears (which I count as a good thing) and brought me enormous peace. Now I finally have the courage to share it:
Serenity, wonder and peace are yours
The infinite mystery of life
Wholeness, connection and balance are yours
If you surrender to strife.
Let go and let come
The earth will keep turning
The work will get done
Let go and let come
The universe is waiting for you.
Kindness, compassion and love are yours
Softness of a warm embrace
Happiness, humour and joy are yours
The laughter of children at play.
Let go and let come…
Silence and stillness and solace are yours
Because sometimes you must go within
Nurturing, comfort and weeping are yours
If you can learn to give in.
Let go and let come…
Envy and anger and greed are yours
Because they too have something to teach
Community, family and friendship are yours
If in your heart you make peace.
Let go and let come…
The universe is waiting
Your own heart is waiting
And we’re all here waiting for you.
Last Saturday I had the great privilege of listening to authors, Maya Ward (The Comfort of Water) and Claire Dunn (My year without matches) in conversation with Sean O’Caroll (founder of Wild Mind) at CERES. It was held on the Village Green, right by Merri Creek, the perfect location for a discussion of rewilding in urban contexts.
Sean took a moment at the start to invite us all to listen to the more than human world around us and bring that richness into our awareness. Throughout the evening Maya and Claire’s reflections were punctuated by the call of ducks, wattlebirds and crows. It was delicious to open my senses to all of these things and include them in my experience of the conversation.
What struck me most about the conversation was the way that it traversed personal, spiritual and political worlds. So many levels of the human story are highlighted by the journey of these women. Their choices have made them different from other people but the fears and personal confrontations they describe are universal. By choosing to engage with the world in new ways, they challenge the status quo and open space for all of us to privilege new/old forms of knowing and ways of being that are based in direct experience of the more than human.
To close they taught us wide angle vision and fox walking. I have been using wide angled vision throughout the week – on the train, in crowded city streets, on my walk to work through the park. It’s a difficult experience to describe but there’s definitely something to it, a kind of clarity and presence outside my usual perception.
Over all the evening was very enjoyable but it barely scratched the surface of what it might take to rewild ourselves in urban environments. Hopefully this will be the first of many such conversations. There were over 250 RSVPs on Facebook (about 60 showed up on the day and it was a chilly evening). It demonstrates to me that there is a great hunger for conversation about living closer to wildness in our cities. I’m excited that so many share my passion.
Groups are proliferating like mushroom caps pushing their way out of the mycelium net
Svasti, Evolver, Deep Ecology Network, Mother Tongue, Sisters for sisters, Wild Mind, Open Communities, 5rhythms, Dancing Freedom,
So many interesting people and things that I want to support
That I want to be supported by
How to find one’s place amongst all this juicy goodness?
In the language of competition, the world of separation, diversity is bad
But in the language of compassion, the world of connection, diversity is good
In time they will come to occupy their own niches
They will serve the needs of a variety of groups
They will ease the transition from the old story to the new.
So gather good people, recognise the universe in each other, honour our mutual beauty
Support it all because who knows what’s needed
Who knows the value of heeding the call of our hearts?
Some things are worth doing even if you fail
Please yourself, but not by halves, go all the way to the bottom of your heart and let those yearnings guide your actions.
As for me, I’m quite happy to wander around, doing what I please
If others begin to do what I do then I shall leave them to it and wander some other way
After all my expression, my networks, my calling are my own, unique
Who can say what the outcome might be?
I seem to be pulled toward grief and gratitude at the moment. On the face of it, according to common understanding, it seems incongruous like being pulled in different directions. From the inside though the connection is seamless, grief and gratitude entwine each other, the latter is a balm for the former.
Earlier this year my 4 year old moved up to the kinder room and was quite sad about the loss of his beloved child care room. I mentioned this to a colleague at work who responded with enthusiasm. “That’s great, he must have felt really loved where he was.” Her response shifted my thinking and inspired me to tell Mr A “I know you feel sad and that’s okay. That sadness tells us that we loved something so what we can do is be grateful and say thank you. Thank you child care room, thank you toys, thank you carers.”
Some weeks later I cradled Archie, my beloved dog of ten years, as he lay on the threshold of death. I was moved in that moment of letting go to give thanks for the life we had shared and wrote the below poem in his honour.
At the Wild Mind Gathering I offered a ritual of grief and later a song of gratitude. The song was inspired by the joy of finding community but the grief of separation was just around the corner. I knew everyone would share my pain at leaving such a beautiful space of connection and sharing, so I offered my thanks for what we had created together.
Joanna Macy says that gratitude is a revolutionary act. Gratitude says “I am enough. I have enough.” The danger in grief is that the pain will lead us down the path of fear and scarcity, closing us off to love. Gratitude stops the descent and holds us in grief as a pure expression of love.
Grief is becoming a friend to me. It shows me that I’m alive, that I am capable of love and that I am engaged in the world. I am learning to be grateful for the pain of grief and finding that the more I embrace it, the more it sets me free and the more open I am to embracing the love that comes my way. I am grateful for all the people, things and moments that I have loved and lost for helping me learn this lesson.
There are so many things happening that I would like to post about but I just haven’t found the time/energy/will to sit down and type them up! I decided early on that this blog has to be painless, if it becomes a chore it will not be sustainable. Let me take you on a little journey through the current whirlwind that is my life.
Firstly there’s this article about the Chinese new year and the transition from water to wood. I’m not particularly familiar with Chinese astrology but I think we all know something deep has been moving through our lives over the last couple of years. I was relieved to read this article, I want it to be true, badly! I am deeply grateful for the trial by fire I have been through over the last year and the things it has taught me but I would be very happy for my life to now be dominated by nurturing the new. Giddy up wood horse!
On that note there are lots of lovely new things happening. On the 27th February Geoff (Play of Light) and I are hosting an ‘unnamed gathering of deep ecology/ecospiritual types.’ We want this to be a cocreation that serves the needs and interests of those who turn up to seed it with us. It already feels like it has emerged from our conversations over the last six months. I see it as an experimental space where people can test ideas on a warm audience. I’ve also spoken of it as a crucible where we can support each other to forge a new way of being in/with the world.
I’ve been talking to Lakshmi (the friend who inspired the new moon ritual) about starting a discussion group. We are in the process of settling on a date but will probably start by screening a film by Velcro Ripper. Lakshmi made me very happy by introducing me to her Charles Eisenstein inspired concept of ‘pay as you can.’ It invites people to appreciate and reciprocate the gift you have given but leaves it up to them to decide what that looks like. As a bonus I daresay it leaves everyone feeling noble and generous.
Yesterday I took my son to Wirrawilla Rainforest Walk. It was a loooong drive and he was quite grumpy. I had several moments where I wondered whether it was worth it and I should find somewhere closer to home, even felt guilty for dragging him to a place that I want to go. When we got there though he was utterly delighted with the place, particularly the sound of water that surrounds you while you are there.
I’m incredibly excited by the upcoming Wild Mind conference. I am sure it will be the beginning of many more new and wonderful things. I can’t imagine what it will be like to be surrounded by like-minded folks for an entire weekend and I can’t wait to find out!
Finally there’s a plan to run another workshop with Linette on 23rd March. I will have the flyer up by the end of the week. Looks like that wooden horse is already at the gallop, yeehaw!