I have been listening... watching more dazed and removed than I like to admit, as we unravel. Every day there is a barrage of insurmountable issues which I do not need to mention... we all know what they are. Most of us know on some level what is happening and probably feel helpless and depressed or live in denial... buying things, feeding our desires just to get that spike of endorphins or divert our attention for one more hour. I know this song... I am no different than anyone else, but today I took a step.
For so long I have felt a darkness that exists just outside of my awareness, like a wall of water, a tsunami 60 feet high, waiting to crash through my bubble of protection and annihilate me. I know it was grief and held it at bay, understanding that it was my responsibility to somehow allow it in, to let affect me, to feel what was there... to fall on my knees. The enormity of this anguish would certainly destroy me and the illusion I have been living. The effort to keep it compartmentalized... and "away" has been immense on my part and involved every avoidance tactic I had... can you blame me?
I seems I have knowingly been asleep (is this possible?) even though I listened over and over again to trusted spiritual and environmental leaders telling us to feel our grief for what we have done to the oceans, dolphins, forests, polar bears, bees, streams, air... our own souls and other human beings who live in appalling conditions.
But something happened today because yesterday I saw this:
It finally sunk in... I could hold it back no more... it's over, we have officially killed the American dream, a dream that we exported to the world and is now killing our planet.
The mysterious death of the American symbol, the bald eagles in the Western U.S., broke the dam protecting my heart and the anguish came gushing in.
I went and sat on the land, sobbing and rocking back and forth for hours. I asked over and over again for forgiveness.
I did it because I needed to... and I sense it will come again and again, but I now sit and wonder about the impact of an act like this... I once asked the great Father Thomas Keating about contrition and to the best of my memory he said something like -- contrition is true repentance, sorrow of the soul.
My follow up question should have been, what impact does this have on life? On the situation in question? But since I did not ask, I will try to answer for myself, by looking at my life. I know in my own evolution that when I allow myself to feel some really uncomfortable emotion, allow it to move through my body and feel the pain or sorrow, after a bit of time some reconciliation takes place... and peace eventfully comes.
But I feel there is something more. I don't know if you all believe in God, but I do... and I wonder if a true act of contrition is the ONE REAL contribution we can make to heal the damage we have done? Since I did not ask Fr. Keating this important question, I went to Fr. Google and a bible-wise Facebook friend who pointed me toward the story of Nehemiah in the bible.
In the story, the gates and wall of Jerusalem had been destroyed by fire. When Nehemiah heard this, he he sat down and wept and mourned for days, fasting and praying. Some interpretations of this story say that because Nehemiah's had a deeply anguished heart, it brought about a historical event -- Jerusalem was saved.
And to quote the book Surprised By Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit Of Rebels by Tullian Tchividjian, "When true repentance is offered, God promises to forgive and restore. Until we can recognize our own wrongdoing, we'll continue to be mastered by this self-centered bondage. Freedom comes only with true repentance..."
Now, I know many of us are activists... and even thought this is a truly ACTIVE act... I do believe physical world action is also required, but it seems to me like this is the intelligent first step... because we have to act from a place inside that is integrated. We have to come from peace to create peace.
I do not know if feeling grief about my complicity in the degradation of our world will change the outer circumstances and offering something for the future... but I have hope and a question for you... Can we afford not to try?
Thank you Sherrie for your help!