Last weekend, I got the chance to go to a retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico for The Work That Reconnects During Dark Times. It was one of those charmed, once in a lifetime experiences, like being able to take Joanna Macy to the airport with me...showing up at Chimayo on the 206th birthday of the chapel...etc... So many people asked me why "I" would go to this retreat. Joanna's spiritual practice is Engaged Buddhism and much of the inspiration from her work comes from Buddhist philosophy and practice. When I read her book in the fall, this isn't the part of it that I picked up on. I was paying attention to her systems theory evidence for identifying my relationship to the earth differently. I was appreciating her honest assessment of the grim reality of the world's condition. I felt like she had an empowering, loving voice that I needed to hear especially as I saw Trump come to power. Reading "Coming Back to Life" introduced me to the concepts of deep ecology and deep time. And both concepts stuck with me. Deep ecology is present in some way in every religion, and as a Jesus follower I saw it too. Deep Ecology helped me connect a passion I've had since I was kid starting a "Save Our Planet" club and asking for a book called "Environmental Literacy" as a 6th grader, to my eyes opened, heartbroken for the world, adult self. My work with children and families also makes me interested in sharing this kind of stuff with my kids. Anyhow, I was so glad to go. Participate in some of this work. And it was truly inspiring. I wrote and wrote in the evenings, I was in my absolute favorite landscape, I met some amazing people...The pictures are loading in reverse, so here's my trip, kinda backward.
Me, waiting to get picked up by my family at the airport. I wasn't tired, perse, but I was full to bursting with all I'd seen and heard. And I was getting a cold.
I came to Chimayo also on the feast day of Our Lord of Esquipulas, originally venerated in Guatamala, an original image/figure of "Black Jesus". The discovery of a crucifix of this image and the subsequent miracles is the origin story of El Santuario de Chimayo and it is the most sacred pilgrimage site in the United States. I had always wanted to visit and not only did I visit, I ended up getting to attend a mass where the Los Hermanos Penitentes visited, singing songs original to Northwestern New Mexico, preserved through centuries. I didn't take any pictures near or in the Santuario, just these crosses on a chain link fence as you walk in.
Looking toward the barn I stayed in for the weekend, It was just starting to snow.
This was my reading material. Basically the story of A Wind in the Door is a version of The Work The Reconnects...It was inspiring and I saw the story in a new light after not reading it for many years, and also completely taking for granted before the message of interconnectness and the danger of denying it.
For evening sessions, candles lit the way from dinner to the meeting space.
Sunset on the first evening. This meadow was a particular color of chartreuse that just cannot be captured by camera.
Mesa behind the buildings of Ghost Ranch. I found a labyrinth just to the right of the photo. I love a labyrinth and will pretty much walk one anywhere and it's pretty meaningful to me, but this particular surrounding was so amazing!
The barn I stayed in. It was a nice little studio apartment space on one side, literally across from the stables. It smelled like hay.
My word for 2016 was more of the "expansive" I had explored in 2015. This year I have definitely traveled to the borders of my assumptions, my "take-for-granted" spaces, my comfortable spaces. I think my word(s) for 2017 are Forge/Forge Ahead.
White women, why? Why did you do it! I am filled with shame and confusion that so many ladies across the nation voted for Trump. Today, I'm looking around, absolutely perplexed, terribly sad...reading "Coming Back to Life" by Joanna Macy, I find the big picture that I want to be a part of. We cannot stop fighting for what's right, we cannot stop pointing at climate change and shouting for action and responsibility to be taken. We cannot stop shining a light on police brutality against people of color, the hate and exclusion of immigrants and the LGBTQ community. It's all still there today, just as it was yesterday and we have our whole lives to fight it. If you are tired or too sad, sit out a bit, that's okay. Church-at-large, you failed. You've been failing. Time for some other way of organizing, people of faith...let's figure it out.
I am totally ready to go. I am inspired to live out kindness, welcome, love. I am totally ready to wrestle the Bible from the hands of the "evangelicals" and find in it true and original blessing which is for all people, NOT just who white, heterosexual, males think deserve it.
I am totally ready to talk to Jesus about this next leg of the journey. The Jesus I need now is super Jesus, the one who transcends time and space and is my guru for living in this world. The crazy Jesus who noticed birds and wheat waving in the wind and would talk to and listen to absolutely everybody. That guy. I need him AND I need Joanna Macy and Matthew Vines and Mary Oliver to talk me through it. And I need my sacred space by the couch and thankfulness and walking. I need good news and hope and the beatitudes. I need the Jesus who is a mystic, the Jesus who was alone in the garden. I don't want Idol Jesus. The one we make in our own image. The one people keep locked in 4 books of the Bible and who has a glowing white face. I want the Jesus who is completely transcendent of the stories and shows me a way to God.
I need help from that guy so that hate doesn't fill my heart and harden it. So that I can transform my worry and dread and disgust into kindness and bravery.
This September, Henry started at Dandelion, and that has been this incredibly surreal thing. It feels like suddenly my time as a mom to babies is done. Being at the comforting, beautiful place that Dandelion is feels like having a doula help me through this reality. On the first day of school, I was participating and Sonia, one of the teachers was gently washing a chicken whose backside really needed a bath. The circle of children sat around her outside under the tree and watched. She put Daisy in a bin of warm water and I helped hold her while Sonia said very kindly "I'm going to wash you now, Daisy". And set to work with her soap and rag. I thought about how she used that best practice for working with all the vulnerable--babies and small children, the elderly, those who need assistance from others in cleaning themselves--in her interaction with the chicken. And I felt so grateful to hear those words. It doesn't matter that Daisy is a chicken. It was more of a way of interacting with the whole world with respect for living things. I felt glad that was what I was learning and what all my kids have learned from starting their foray into the wide world at Dandelion. Way back when, when Lily was 3, I knew we needed a co-op preschool because of the lower cost, but I have found my years at Dandelion to be just what I needed in so many more ways. I've learned about parenting, about community, about plants, chickens, child development, about true play. And honestly, my time working on the board, learning with the parents from the speakers at parent meetings, and learning from Abby and Sonia has been such a part of my path toward nurturing children's spirituality as a fundamental practice in my job at CWOW, at home with my kids and hopefully, in my interactions with all the children I meet.
And it was my birthday earlier this month and Lily gave me this amazing card.