A note from Carl:
I hope this finds you well.
I’m wondering as you are reading this if you might pause and open attention downward to include the felt connection with the ground underneath you. The direct sensations of your feet, your pelvis, maybe your back – wherever you are in contact with and receiving support. I am doing this now as I am typing and noticing that when I generously offer my weight downward, I receive generous support. My shoulders drop a little, my wrists let go of something that was holding, my breath deepens. I’ll keep reminding myself to return to this again and again as I type, and I invite you, if you like, to occasionally hit the refresh button on the contact you have with the ground as you read.
What times we are in. I notice I say that often. What times we are in.
I am reminded of a song from when I was in college, by Jesus Jones: Right here, right now, there is no other place I’d rather be. Right here, now watching the world wake up from history.
Right here, where it felt like we were beginning to emerge from the pandemic, and are now being pulled back in, where in our home state of Utah, our legislators pass laws that forbid a mask mandates in schools even though we are a hotbed for the Delta variant, and tens of thousands of unvaccinated kids will be packed into classrooms in two weeks.
Right now, where it feels like it has been 100 degrees everyday for months and many of those days our valley is filled with smoke from wildfires; with beautiful yellow-red moons at night, and during the day it looks like we’re living inside a photo filter.
And yet, right here, right now there is no other pace I’d rather be. Right here, right now, watching the world wake up from history. No other place I’d rather be.
A couple days ago I was able to join in listening to a live conversation between our brother and teacher Bayo Akomolafe along with Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands, moderated by our wonderful colleague, Karine Bell. I just kept thinking, I’m so grateful to be alive right now, where this conversation is happening. To be able to weep and laugh, to be in awe of these two black men bearing witness to our past and present, and imagining into a possible future with such eloquence, such clear-seeing, such grief, such coyote mischief, and such wisdom. No place I’d rather be.
Many of you know that Erin has studied Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects for many years, and several years ago she trained to be a facilitator of that work. It’s wonderful and powerful stuff! Joanna Macy is a lighthouse in this stormy world. I love how Bill Plotkin referred to Joanna as our Great Earth Elder in our recent podcast conversation. I have found that her way of describing where we are right now as invaluable.
She describes three stories of our time. Business as Usual, The Great Unraveling, and The Great Turning. Here’s my take on what these stories describe. We start with:
Business As Usual, where the engine just chugs along toward the cliff edge with billionaires launching to space instead of eradicating famine. Where the military industrial growth complex consumes the systems that sustain life on this planet. Factory farming. Famine. Systems of dominance and extraction show up not only in nature but in systems cultures hold around race and gender and wealth – these pervade our lives and most of us are numbed, through busyness and distraction, to the the gravity of the situation. In business as usual, the sentiment is “it’s not that bad.” And “I don’t want to change.”
The Great Unraveling, is where we see living systems fray and fall apart. The fires, the floods, the huge storms, the mass shootings, food chain and supply chain breakdowns, mass extinction, the IPCC report. We live with the very real possibility that we may see no fish living in the ocean during our lifetime.
And thankfully, there is The Great Turning, where those of us who love life, and this world, and its children, and rivers, and mountains, and the two and four legged and-winged ones and future generations say we are not going to let the unraveling have the last word. And we recognize the urgency, and we make a great turning toward loving this world and living in more beautiful, sane, life-giving ways. We do the healing and learning and grieving and visioning, and the actions that are necessary to cocreate a world that supports the thriving of all life.
Here is an excerpt from Erin’s description of her upcoming fall class, which is now open for registration, called Embodying The Great Turning:
“We must understand that we do not have the luxury of living in ordinary times, but rather the responsibility of living at a unique hinge point in history, the last time that humankind will have a choice: to continue with business-as-usual and watch the planetary systems that support our children’s lives fray and fall apart, or to participate in the greatest exercise of the moral imagination the world has ever seen, turning abruptly toward a better way.” – Kathleen Dean Moore
I want to take your hand and warmly invite you to do this work with me – together – with respect, kindness, and room for it all.
I know it can be terrifying to take off the blinders and really let our hearts break when we see what is unfolding all around us. And I know how empowering it can be when we do it linking arms together with kindhearted companions.
I know the incredible sense of empowerment and fierce love that blossoms in us individually and collectively that can support our determination to do whatever we can to support thriving life on earth. When we consider supporting the lives of future beings of all species with our every action, our lives become so beautiful today!
This is so deeply important. Right now. Our wisdom, courage, and actions will have significant impacts on future generations.
What kind of impact do you wish to have?
What kind of ancestor will you be?
Your voice, your broken-open heart, your love, and your unique way of responding have never been more needed.
In this course, we’ll be meeting in Rumi’s fertile field, out beyond ideas of right and wrong. We’ll root all of it in love.”
I encourage you to take the time to read the whole description of Erin’s class. It is not a brief description, as our beloved friend and Catalyst Magazine editor, Greta DeJong used to say each time Erin wrote an article for the magazine: “Erin, you are a writer of books.” Indeed she is working on her book! And the description of the class is eloquent, heartfelt and expresses how much Erin loves this world, and loves supporting others to thrive in the great turning.
It is is hard work, it is messy, scary, unimaginably beautiful work, and we need community to do it. If you are drawn, I can assure you that Erin is an exquisite guide.
Thank you for reading.
I’m glad to be right here, right now, with you as a part of our community.
I’ll leave you with a beloved poem by Susa Silvermarie
A Thousand Years of Healing
From whence my hope, I cannot say,
except it grows in the cells of my skin,
in my envelope of mysteries it hums.
In this sheath so akin to the surface of the earth
it whispers. Beneath
the wail and dissonance in the world,
hope’s song grows. Until I know
that with this turning
we put a broken age to rest.
We who are alive at such a cusp
now usher in
one thousand years of healing!
Winged ones and four-leggeds,
grasses and mountains and each tree,
all the swimming creatures,
even we, wary two-leggeds
hum, and call, and create
the Changing Song. We remake
all our relations. We convert
our minds to the earth. In this turning time
we finally learn to chime and blend,
attune our voices; sing the vision
of the Great Magic we move within.
the new habit, getting up glad
for a thousand years of healing.
– Susa Silvermarie
You can watch a video of Joanna describing the great turning here.