I just came back from the most marvelous retreat and workshop. It so inspired, validated, and motivated me, I can’t wait to share it with all of you. The title was “World as Lover, World as Self,” alluding to the theme of the afternoon workshops run by Joanna Macy. Each morning, we meditated in traditional Buddhist retreat style with Wes Nisker, and each afternoon, Joanna led us in a journey into our hearts and souls, using processes called The Work that Reconnects.
We were reconnecting with the earth and with all of life, feeling that interconnection, and our own personal connection to it, viscerally. We were also reconnecting with our hearts, with all the hurt, anger, fear, and joy we feel for what’s going on in the world today, both on a grand scale, and how it may touch each of our lives personally. From here, we gained new motivation and inspiration to go back out into the world and do whatever work we were called to do. Going forth, we carried new visions and insights, some we gleaned for ourselves, and some that were taught by Joanna and Wes.
How we did this sounds so simple and was so amazing at the same time. In the midst of meditations, which brought clarity and focus, we did simple dyad and group processes, rituals, and dances, many of which you can find described on Joanna’s website.
The “new” vision for me, taught by Joanna, is this: That right now, our whole global society is caught in an Industrial Growth Society, based on businesses growing and growing, selling more and more stuff, and making more and more money. I think most of us know at heart that this is not sustainable, but in exercises in the workshop, we heard the voices of many of the 60 people describing the devastation this has wrought in all areas – to the environment, to the animals, to us as humans in the form of diseases, from radiation and pollution, in the form of alienation and lack of community, in the form of war and oppressions. Joanna also taught about the roots of the philosophies behind this way of life.
We need to transition to something different, to what many are now calling a Life Sustaining Society. – An economy and community that sustains life rather than using it up as it focuses on growth. According to Joanna and others, we are in the midst, albeit early on, of that transition, and it is called The Great Turning. We are all part of The Great Turning, it is happening now, all around us, and it is spreading. While it’s scary to see what is happening around us, and to wonder if we will make the transition in time, we can feel excited, proud, exhilarated, that we are part of The Great Turning.
I congratulate you on your part, whether it is small, such as recycling a bottle or a bag, or walking one time, or as big as orchestrating large organizations for change, and everything in between. Together, we can do it. Next time, I’ll write more about how, and about some of my personal experiences.