REBLOG: Earth Mother’s Message on Chaos, the Grid of Energy, and need for Calm.

From Mare Cromwell’s For the Earth Blog

Reblogging  this powerful and important channeled message from Earth Mother, transmitted by my longtime friend, Gaia mystic and author Mare Cromwell… she provides a little of her story and her many credentials at the beginning, then starts to deliver the message at 4:12.

Just a few of her key points:

CALM DOWN. Too many of us are getting pulled into the drama of these times. Our collective subconscious feeds an energy grid encircling the planet; some of our actions feed Earth Mother; most don’t. So – yes, feel the emotions, process them, and release them; don’t numb them out or get stuck in them or lash out in anger and hatred at others.

ENERGY FEEDS ENERGY. Hatred and anger build more hatred and anger. There are positive energies pouring into the planet – Cosmic Christ energy, Buddha energy. Pray, send positive energies into the grid. Create prayer circles, do ceremony – the Earth needs this all the time now.

CHAOS IS OVERWHELMING. And it is necessary; a new world is coming in. Native peoples have predicted this. Don’t feed the chaos with reactionary drama. Negative energies are served by our unconsciousness, numbness, reactivity…their time is limited and they are fighting hard to hang on.

WE EACH HAVE A CHOICE: To get sucked into the drama, or not. Facebook is a prime example of the addictive cacophony, the energy hooks us immediately when we login and too many of us are venting there. Step away from the computer, go outside, stand barefoot on the Earth and give our angst to Mother; she is hardwired to heal.

MOTHER LOVES US. More than anything, she wants us to know this. Mother loves us and wants to help and heal us. And she asks us to be present with her, listen to her, love her back.

There’s much more – much more – in this long message, and I urge you – please listen to it all. This is the real deal, and it’s important for all of us to hear it.

For more of Mare’s channeled messages from Mother Earth, see her books, Messages from Mother – Earth Mother and The Great Mother Bible (or, I’d Rather Be Gardening). 

A Life to Change Lives: Matthew Fox’s Confessions

I first heard of the radical theologian Matthew Fox when I was in college…at the time, he was the visionary founder of the Institute of Culture and Creation Spirtuality in Chicago, shaking up the Catholic theological world with his teachings of joy, embodied-ness, ecology, activism and contemplation in prayer. I remember feeling intrigued, attracted to a Christian theology that honored creation as sacred…I didn’t know then that Dr. Fox’s work would eventually be the key to a new direction in my life.

Mumble-mumble years later, as his student, I read Dr. Fox’s stirring autobiography, Confessions: The Making of a Post-Denominational Priest. It was published in 1996, three years after he had been removed from the Dominican Order as a heretic after 10 tumultuous years of standing courageously against the virtual freight-train of Vatican censure. So far from being crushed or finished by the ordeal, however, he was embarking at age 56, a free man, on radical new directions in his career.

Confessions describes Fox’s evolution from a Dominican seminarian, inspired by an exchange of letters with Thomas Merton to attend the Institut Catholique de Paris, where he first encountered the teachings of creation spirituality through his mentor, Pere M.D. de Chenu, and was challenged to incorporate activism for social justice in his contemplative spirituality.

He went on to spend 34 years as a successful and visionary educator, speaker, and author of 22 books, founding and directing the Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality for a total of 19 years despite increasing criticism and opposition from -Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, then chief Inquisitor and head of the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith (later Pope Benedict XVI).

The cause of Ratzinger’s ire? Fox was a feminist theologian who called God “Mother;” he taught “original blessing” over original sin; he fraternized with Native Americans; he refused to condemn homosexuals, and other charges. When his work was reviewed and passed as theologically irreproachable, Ratzinger acted unilaterally, silencing Fox for one year in 1989 and forcing him to step down as director of the ICCS. Three years later he expelled Fox from the Dominican order, thus terminating the program at Holy Names College.

Confessions wrenchingly details those tumultuous years, closing with Fox’s new beginning in the Episcopalian Church, developing what would become the Cosmic Mass, contemplating the beginnings of a new University of Creation Spirituality, and asking deep questions on the future of the Catholic Church.

Just this week, North Atlantic Books published Fox’s revised and updated version of Confessions, picking up the story from where it left off and carrying it forward to the present day.

Five new chapters tell of Fox’s ongoing radical innovations in the worlds of education, worship, and theology: he founded and later retired from the University of Creation Spirituality; launched a revolutionary wisdom education program in Oakland’s public schools, retooled the Cosmic Mass, partnered in intellectual ventures with luminaries including Andrew Harvey, Bede Griffiths, Brian Swimme, David Korten, and Rupert Sheldrake; and published another 10 books.

Two of those books, A New Reformation and The Pope’s War, blew the whistle on Vatican scandals, presaging the ultimate retirement of his bête noir, Pope Benedict. Cautiously hopeful in seeing the renewal of social justice and liberation theology in Pope Francis’ reign, Fox nevertheless continues holding the Vatican to account.

Like the original Confessions, the revised and updated edition is simply and movingly told. I found rereading its chapter “What Will Belief and Holiness Mean in a Postmodern Era?” most moving: Fox is describing spirituality as an ecstatic, embodied experience that goes beyond the bloodless theory of religion. He writes of finding God by letting go of the predefined images of God, and looking instead “for a God of justice, of beauty, of celebration, of creativity, of truth, of wonder, of mystery, of nature, of humor, of earth and earthiness.”

Fox’s experiential description of the Divine embodied in creation is what called to me so many decades ago; it is in large part what has enabled me to reintegrate my adult spirituality; and as I see the experiential, earth-honoring spirituality of the rising generation, it is what gives me hope for the future.

As the new Confessions closes, Fox writes:

It has been a privilege to serve modestly in the task of bringing alive the creation spirituality movement all these years, trying to mine the treasures from that tradition and to do it not from an armchair but from the front- lines. While I bear certain wounds in my body and soul from the struggles, I anticipate with joy what is still yet to come.

New Pope, New Vision – New Hope?

Matthew Fox’s Letters to Pope Francis Offer Audacious – and Necessary – Guideposts to Rebirth the Church

As an Earth-based escapee from the Catholic Church for lo, these 30-odd years, I’ve puzzled some friends with my enthusiasm over theologian/activist/author and ex-Dominican Matthew Fox. After I’d shaken the Catholic – and Christian – dust off my shoes so very thoroughly, they ask, what’s the deal? Why follow the work of this theologian- still more, why promote him?

Simple: Fox has spent more than 40 years teaching creation-based spirituality – a mystic Christian tradition in tune with leading-edge science, focusing on original blessing rather than original sin, teaching pan-entheism (God in all things, and all things in God, a transcendent and embodied Divine) and speaking out for social, environmental, and gender justice.

He’s spent almost as long calling the Vatican to account for its repressive policies shutting down the voices of justice, dissent, and theological progress, and for promoting the blindly sycophantic and the criminally greedy, corrupt, and pedophilic.

Even a spiritual-but-not-religious Earth-based edgewalker can appreciate a  theologian like that…one who teaches “the Christ Path” rather than Christianity, who honors women, feminism, and the Divine Feminine, who’s transformed worship into a high-energy, dancing communal meditative journey and who attends sweat lodge and Sun Dance and pays heed to the wisdom of Indigenous teachers.  And who carries the scars of Vatican anger for doing all of the above.

So when “Speakeasy Mike” offered me the opportunity to review Letters to Pope Francis, of course I leaped at the chance. ..with the caveat that I’m not an unbiased source, just one speaking from the other side of the religious fence.

Fox has told the story of his struggles in writing The Pope’s War, his comprehensive expose of the corruption in the Vatican. Recently released in paperback, the book is a damning portrait of the corrupt and repressive papacies of Benedict XVI and John Paul II. It is an exhaustively researched and documented – and emotionally exhausting – read, as well as an act of profound moral courage.

Reading Letters to Pope Francis: Rebuilding a Church with Justice and Compassion after experiencing The Pope’s War is like moving from darkness to dawn. Fox is writing from the heart, pouring out hope and prayer and support to a spiritual brother. He addresses Francis as a pope who has demonstrated an understanding and commitment to the teachings of the historical Jesus: justice, compassion, and the reform of corruption. And he challenges the new pope to act boldly and lavishly on those principles, calling on him to fulfill the promise of the papal name he chose and return to the forgotten values of Vatican II.

Nothing escapes examination in this small but intense volume: the need for healing the Church from the wounds inflicted by the Vatican at all levels, from criminal cardinals to molested children…the need for a new awareness and commitment to the poor in the face of global corporatocracy…the need to expunge the influence of fundamentalist christofascism from the Church…the need to recognize the martyrs of the New World and reinvent the failing priesthood…

All of these are themes that the new pope has already sounded. But Fox dreams bigger, audaciously envisioning a Church not only reformed but also re-birthed at the deepest levels to become a voice for healing and transformation in the world, as the Pope’s namesake saint and indeed Jesus, the object of the Church’s worship, taught

He urges Francis to adopt the principles and paths of Creation Spirituality – an ancient mystical tradition within Christianity which Fox learned from his mentor, Marie-Dominique Chenu, o.p., of the Institut Catholique de Paris, and which includes such luminary spokesmen as the late Teillhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry, and which Father Bede Griffiths called the “spirituality of the future.”

Fox urges the pope to recognize the need for the Divine Feminine in the spirituality of this century….to advocate for the rights of women, and to step away from the myopic anti-sex/anti-birth-control/anti-abortion/anti-gay sexual policies of past papacies and embrace the teachings of Jesus on sexuality between consenting adults – i.e., silence. He urges him to hear the words of indigenous peoples on the sacredness of the earth, and to de-centralize the Church, giving greater leadership to the laity, and particularly to women. He speaks to the need for deep and genuine ecumenism, sharing wisdom among faiths – not the Church’s historic facsimile tolerating other denominations as “separated brethren” and ignoring or invalidating other traditions.

In short, Fox passionately envisions a rebirth of the Church to one that is truly catholic – i.e., universal – in its joyous worship, compassion, mysticism, creativity, community empowerment, prophetic voice, and activism. His love for the Church is plain to see – as well as his desire to help midwife the rebirthing.

Reading his words, as an escaped Catholic who bailed out over many of the issues he describes, my heart warmed to the vision of a Church that was genuinely a force for healing and positive change: one that played nicely with other spiritual traditions, that favored the poor over the powerful and the Earth over corporate greed. That recognized the Earth, as the newly canonized Saint Hildegard of Bingen did, as Mother, and all the cosmos radiant with divinity.

I see this book as a message not only to Pope Francis but also, especially, to ex-Catholics and spiritual-but-not-religious “nones” dreaming of what a welcoming and supportive church might be. This is a vision worth manifesting…and now, if ever, is the time.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.




Guest Post: God’s phone number….?

As I’ve been walking on this journey, I’ve been making magical connections and reconnections with friends on profound spiritual paths. Some are just finding their online voices; others already have established presences in print and online.

To celebrate them, their journeys, and their present work, I am opening SoulPaths to their guest posts.

My first guest is my friend Mare Cromwell, whom I’ve known for more than 20 years, and whom I consider one of my spiritual sisters.  She’s a published author, a blogger, and an absolutely amazing master gardener. Shortly after embarking upon a seven-year interspiritual quest which resulted in her book, If I Gave You God’s Phone Number, she took on an apprenticeship devoted to honoring and serving the Earth Mother. Our conversations now yield rich insights on connecting to Spirit in all creation.  As she celebrates the launch of her book in e-book form, I’m delighted to host her posting here.

So – here’s Mare!


God’s phone number… Could it really exist?  Has it ever existed?

For seven years between 1995 and 2001, I interviewed close to 50 people about God’s phone number. The actual question was: “If I gave you God’s phone number, what would you do with it?” My book If I gave you God’s phone number….Searching for Spirituality in America came out in 2002.

It has been nine years since the book was published. I’m not certain where that time has gone. But I strongly suspect that for many there may be more of a need for that direct line to the Divine now compared with nine years ago.

These days the news is surreal with the debt crisis, climate change, earthquakes, etc.  I know that many people around me, strangers and friends, are praying and wishing they had a phone number to the Creator to buy food. To pay their rent or mortgage. To deal with a loved one’s health issue, etc.

Sadly, when I post the idea of calling God on the phone on various internet sites such as Reddit or other venues, most people trash the idea more quickly than mosquitoes get smacked. So it goes in our secular society where people can write knee-jerk comments without giving much thought. Sigh…

Truth be told, the concept of a phone number to God was not my original idea. There is an old song about calling God on the phone from the 30’s. I believe some churches still sing it.

But suppose there really was a direct connection to the Divine and we all had it? I truly believe that we’re all hardwired to have it from before we were born. But most of us have forgotten it. Even forgotten how to look for it. And thus many chase the nice cars and comfortable homes instead. That’s what our society teaches us to seek out – the income to have these items of comfort. (Please know that I’m not knocking a comfortable home. I love the comfort of my home. I just take issue with the mindset that that is the purpose of life.)

When I started my book in 1995, I did not know that I was working on a book. I was depressed and struggling to stave off the need for anti-depressants. At the time I was living out in the Maryland countryside working at a plant nursery and desperately seeking a path to healing. Just the year before I was helping to run an international environmental network.

On Father’s Day that summer, the elderly woman who was renting me a room reminded me to call my father that morning. And I, raised as a Catholic girl, had learned that God was the Ultimate Father. So on that Father’s Day morning I thought about calling God, the Father, on the phone shortly after my landlady left for church. I truly wanted some answers then.

The idea of calling God on the phone would not leave me that summer of ’95. It struck me that it would be a fascinating question to ask people. What would they do with God’s phone number?

Finally I surrendered to the niggling idea and purchased a tape recorder and it was dangerous to be near me after that. My landlady’s friends were targeted promptly. Then the children of friends. Then I progressed to seeking out a broad spectrum of folks from different belief systems, walks of life, etc.

I think most people had a hard time saying “No” to me.  I’m rather persistent in that way. More importantly, providing a safe, nonjudgmental space for people to share about who the Divine is for them opened up realms of deeply personal and powerful beliefs. I was humbled by the interviews. And it was fun.

I did 49 interviews with a wide set of people. Young, old, Christian, Jewish, agnostic. An Afghani Sufi who veritably glowed and spoke wisdom in every statement. A Death Row inmate. People who had no intention of ever using God’s phone number and those who clearly already had the number and used it every day. The interviews were relatively easy to conduct. Figuring out how to lace all of the stories together into a cohesive book was far more challenging.

Certainly some people had similar questions for God, should they actually get the Great Mystery on the phone. Some individuals had spiritual views that startled me. Most of the people in the book were not listed with their real names since I wanted them to be completely comfortable with what they shared. We live in a society that does not discuss religion or spirituality for fearing of offending someone. I wanted them to speak their truth without any inhibitions. And so they did.

One of the revelations from the interviews was that each of us has our own unique relationship with the Divine. There are many paths and we’re all manifestations of our own individual soul paths that color our Godspace as no other’s. This is a beautiful aspect of our beingness. No one is exactly like us or has the exact same relationship with the Divine as we do.

Where am I now in this process?

That’s a good question. ;~)

I’ve just uploaded the e-book version of the tome up on Amazon ( and Smashwords ( Within weeks, it should be available at practically all e-book sources including Barnes & Noble, etc.

Part of me thinks I’m a little insane for having the e-book out since I still have unsold hard copies of it in my basement. This is a house that is about to go on the market and the books, actual heavy hard bound books printed on 100% recycled paper need to go. I really should be trying to sell the hard-copy version. (Oh yeah, hard cover copy plug here:

Oh, you mean… where am I really now in this process? You mean the process of life and God, and spirituality? That question…

That’s an even better question. ;~p

Stay tuned until the next book.

No, that’s not fair to say that. I need to share something. The short answer is that I’m astounded every week by spirit and Creator and magic and healing. My life is an amazing adventure that takes me down and picks me back up again and carries me even higher to feeling God. Feeling compassion. Learning humility. Carrying forth in kindness. Opening up to the mystery and wisdom of other great teachers.

I still choose a church of gardens and wildness. Earth Mother is as much a part of my life as my cat and the passionflower outside my front door that graces me with stunningness this summer. Hummingbirds sneak me messages of joy in the midst of my confusion.

Spirit is powerful and strong and I’m listening and learning. Everyday.

I still want answers but different ones now. The interesting thing is I’ve learned how to listen better, how to tune in to my inner Godspace to find many of the answers.

That’s the challenging part – listening.

That’s where I am.

So now it’s my turn to ask. Where are you?

And what would you do if someone…anyone…gave you God’s phone number?

But What Does the Earth Have to Say?


(A review of Joanna Macy’s Coming Back to Life)

There are wise, multicultural, insightful books…books that urge profound strategies of awakening to change our culture’s current course. And there are books among these that have – I believe – miss a vital piece of the picture.

Joanna Macy’s Coming Back to Life[1], I believe, is such a book. Detailing experiential workshop processes that Macy and others have been using since the 1980s, the book aims to awaken the ecologically unaware to a connection with nature, other species, and their fellow humans. Reading it as our world stands at the tipping point of global warming and climatic disaster, however, I simply felt frustration?… irritation?…annoyance? Call it what it is – anger – at what I saw as fruitless emotionalizing.

As I read the book while tending to my mother in her last weeks and days, Macy’s approach seemed tantamount to moaning and wailing over Mom’s impending death and the loss that our family would experience, blaming ourselves for all that was failing in her body…all the words ever spoken in anger, all the telephone calls never made…all the emotional blows that her heart had taken through the forty years she had spent fighting her genetic inheritance of coronary disease. To clarify: not standing at her bedside, engaging in the painful yet comforting interactions of mutual apology, forgiveness and blessing, but retreating to another room to stage cathartic psycho-performances focused on her worsening physical condition and our own self-blame.

What a horrible, futile way to spend the precious last days that were ticking remorselessly on.

Instead, our family chose to spend her last days in appreciation – after all the medical measures had been tried and had failed, simply to spend the time as lovingly and caringly as humanly possible, enjoying and appreciating our time together in the face of death. When we had our last deep conversation, she turned aside my apologies for actions not taken, and instead affirmed her love and blessing for my path…which was so vastly different from the spiritual tradition she had espoused all her life. I have felt her spirit reaffirm this blessing many times since her death.

Nearly two years before, I had taken another approach with my husband as he lay drugged and unconscious, fighting massive sepsis two months following heroic heart surgery: I refused point-blank to believe at any time that death was a possibility. When the drugs could do no more, the doctors’ urging to turn off life support was like reaching a sheer drop-off at the end of an elevated expressway …I was still racing ahead, but with nothing beneath me…falling, instead, through open air. There could be no conversation, no exchange of forgiveness and blessing – only my repeated “I’m sorry” between sobs as I watched his heart monitor slow, then flatline. It took months to come to terms with the reality of his passing. I still struggle to connect at a deep level, inwardly bracing myself for loss yet again.

But these were the deaths of single human beings…not the death of massive numbers of individual humans, plants and animals, entire species, ecosystems, even potentially life as we know it on Earth.

How do the two connect? As I see it, faced with death, we have four basic options:

  • To despair, blaming self and others, wallowing in the expectation of loss
  • To relentlessly and remorselessly oppose the inevitability of any ending
  • To value life more highly and live more intensely, resisting death as long as possible while seeing it as the wise advisor who gives meaning to life[2]
  • To connect with a larger picture in which nothing happens in isolation and everything is connected, in which death may be the gateway through which an individual’s influence and impact transcend the body…as I came to see it was for my mother and husband.

It is easiest, least risky, least painful, to choose the first two, focusing on the patient as subject or victim, focusing on the external body, disease process, and overwhelming physical needs, imagining and projecting the patient’s experience (or distancing oneself with the platitude “I can’t imagine what you must be going through”), or worse, speaking of the patient as if s/he were an empty, unaware thing in the bed, rather interacting directly with the whole person as a total mind/body/spirit entity.

It is terrifying to engage with another human being as they stand with their toes curled at the brink of the unknown…hanging ten at the drop edge of yonder …how much more terrifying to engage directly with a planet whose compromised ecosystems are in similar condition…especially when this whole culture is based on the belief that the Earth is an unaware, unconscious object?

This is the problem I saw with Macy’s book: while she briefly references the third option of living life more intensely with death as the constant companion[3], by far the bulk of the book, I believe, is focused on the first, which she calls “despair work.” And enlightened as Macy’s intent is, while she recognizes the awareness of other beings, she appears still to be limited by the beliefs of this culture. There is a great deal of discussion around connecting with other humans about the Earth, but no actual direct connection with the awarenesses of the Earth.

The book presupposes that workshop participants already experience a level of despair for the destruction…that as beings of the Earth we inevitably feel pain for the Earth, and that “the problem…lies not with our pain for the world, but in our repression of it. Our efforts to dodge or dull it surrender us to futility – or in systems terms, cut the feedback loop and block effective response.”[4] Macy lists the consequences of our repression: among them, fragmentation and alienation, avoidance of painful information, and sense of powerlessness[5].

She speaks of the Earth as a “presence in our consciousness, not unlike the presence of gods and goddesses in the lives of our early ancestors,” and writes with reverence of the “shamanic traditions of …indigenous peoples…(whose) voices find a hearing because they tell us – as the natives of the late Industrial Growth Society – what we want to know once again: that as kin to the animals and plants, rocks and airs of this sacred world, we can tap its powers, take part in its healing.”[6]

She presences this reverence by invoking the presence and wisdom of the ancestors and succeeding generations in one exercise[7]; invites participants to experience seeing themselves in natural objects in the Mirror Walk[8],  and in the Council of All Beings, invites participants to invoke the awareness of the being they portray[9]. But that is all she says about connection with the awarenesses of the Earth: the rest is focused on participants’ personal awareness, experience and projection.  The Earth, through most of the book, remains a subject to be defended, projected and acted upon, without consultation or invitation for input.

My experience: reading a hospice handbook on the dying process – even doing a guided visualization on death — is very different from standing at a loved one’s deathbed with eyes and heart open. Reading of a rainforest being slashed and burned is very different from sitting in sacred space and hearing a single tree being felled by loggers, or struggling through deep muddy tire tracks and crushed underbrush to touch the stumps and shreds of trees taken. Reading even the most heart-wrenchingly written fundraising letter on the death of our watersheds is very different from standing on the cracked earth of a dried-up streambed and bearing witness to its failing ecosystem.

The wisdom of the imagination is very different from the wisdom of the heart and spirit connecting to the wisdom of the Earth – in the moment, on the spot. Macy’s beautiful, profound, and poetic visualizations cannot – I say – replace the direct experience of the living Earth, the green, feathered, furred, finned, scaled, crawling, and two-legged beings, and the unseen energies and awarenesses of the Earth.  Offering a workshop of “practices to reconnect ourselves, our world” – that does not involve direct connection with the Earth – is like offering a kayaking practicum without the river.

What results from this distancing, I ask? Consciousness can be righteously raised in theory with no resulting actual action, personal cost or long-term outward effect.  How will these visualizations achieve real, lasting change in people who may never have personally experienced the wholeness of the Earth …or those who are only now beginning to awaken to the damage being done? What actions, if any, will result from use of these experiential exercises involving no direct experience – what kind of real change will ensue? What kind of change has ensued in participants of these workshops, six months, twelve months, five years down the road?

The phenomenon of workshop addiction is recognized in psychological circles; I have experienced it myself as both an observer and addict. From years of experience in personal growth communities, I have witnessed that only a fraction of those who spend weekends examining their souls in workshop settings actually emerge with anything more than a brief emotional high or passing insight, soon to be overwritten with the day-to-day concerns of home and work. Only a fraction of those attenders will actually achieve deep behavioral changes over the long term, or sacrifice routine and convenience to strategically pursue a new workshop-generated mission. Laden by my own experience of workshop highs followed by quick-fading resolutions, I had burned out from process work years before, choosing other paths toward personal change.

There are those who say that the brain does not know the difference between reality and ritual (or process)…while this may be true for some, I have not experienced this beyond a very limited degree. A guided visualization or process, like divination – I say – is necessarily limited by the inward filters of the person visualizing…unless support is given to weaken those filters and facilitate an opening to new insights.

I remember my husband sharing stories of inconspicuously using Lodge medicines and prayers to invoke spiritual protection and support during the transformational workshops associated with the Lodge he served…how the processes supported in this way went deeper and achieved greater change than those that were not. And from staffing experience in workshops that did not use – that actively discouraged – -such forms of support in its workshops, I can vouch for the difference made by this absence.

My experience: where only human energies are specifically invited, only human energies, in all their limitations, will contribute.

I say – for Pity’s sake – stop asking participants to visualize from their memories and limiting filters, go out to the woods and the water, and invite the awarenesses of the Earth to speak for themselves in sacred space! To invoke the words of Chief Seattle, without experiencing the context of direct, sacred Earth-connection and Earth-communion from which those words arose, is to empty them of their soul.

By the time I reached the last chapter of Coming Back to Life, I had set the book aside several times in anger. To offer experiential trainings that include no direct experience, I told myself, is simply to feed a cultural workshop addiction and the easy belief that “well, I’ve attended a workshop on XYZ, I’ve had my emotional display and catharsis, I’ve produced a personal vision, therefore I am officially enlightened on the topic.” The certificate goes on the wall, the reference in the resume, and that’s the end of the matter.

There is no time now for such easy outs…any more than there was time for engaging in self-recriminations at my mother’s bedside. There is only time for action.

To be fair, Macy does address the question of action, and in the last chapter[10] provides a format to inspire participants to bless one another and move forward in acting on their insights. Earlier in the book, there is even a suggestion of ways to continue the bonds forged in the workshop. [11] But here again, there is no recognition of direct connection with the awareness of the Earth: the patient remains an object to be discussed but not engaged in interaction.

While I have noted the prevalence of the first possible response to the inevitability of death in the book, I believe the fourth possible response believe is what is needed at this time: To connect with a larger picture in which nothing happens in isolation and everything is connected, in which death may be the gateway through which an individual’s influence and impact transcend the body. To seek direct, humble and loving partnership with Earth Mother and the non-human beings of the Earth, seeking their answers to the destruction. I believe that this approach offers a healthy and effective means of moving through emotional pain to achieve inspired action to protect life on Earth.

[1]        Unless otherwise noted, all references are drawn from Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers, 1998).

[2] Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan (New York: Washington Square Press, 1972) 34

[3] Page 187

[4] Page 27

[5] Pages 35-37

[6] Page 50

[7] Page 136

[8] Page 80

[9] Page 136

[10] Page 171 and following