I wasn't really sure what to expect, going into it. The workshop description read: "Reconnecting to Life/The Work That Reconnects workshops welcome everyone who cares about our planet and all its beings. Exploring and moving through our defenses and distractions, we will touch our true feelings about our troubled world. A safe and transformative process enables us to find refuge and renewal in our own hearts, in nature and in community." I'd been advertising it for years in the electronic events newsletter for activists I created and recently retired from, and Maggie had been offering me workshop space in return, and I figured I'd better cash in on that offer while the help I'd offered was still fresh. I'd been trying to find space in my life for this twice annual workshop for years, I never seemed to have time, but its description intrigued me and besides, one of the facilitators is partnered with the guy who wrote the song about Percy Schmeiser, so I figured it'd be a safe place for me and my 'radical' ideas.
It turns out Maggie and Jackie, and all the people I shared the weekend with, created an opportunity for a weekend I'll never forget.
Being an activist, a 'radical' environmentalist, peace and anti-poverty activist, is not always easy. It's always the right thing, to work peacefully and non-violently for the greater good of all, but it's tough to be labelled as 'radical' for doing that work and yet to continue doing the work and then to watch, day after day and week after week and year after year, the same old bullshit. Sure, there's some kind of 'green shift' going on, but whether it's enough to fend off the looming climate change apocalypse or whether it's another 'cool fad' that'll soon fade into the collective memory of a dead planet is anybody's guess. Species continue to go extinct. The hole in the ozone grows. Carbon levels rise. Forests are plundered. The oceans fill with plastic and oil. Drones and humans kill and rape and lie about it. And there are so many who deny, or ignore, or disregard, the real impact of what's happening, going about their lives as if it'll all be right again someday after the same old hierarchy, that created the mess and recently collapsed, is reconstructed to continue its dirty work. But this weekend I was surrounded with people who see it and acknowledge it and in their individual ways are working for change, and they care enough to find the time to get together for a workshop.
It wasn't easy, the workshop. Jackie and Maggie inspired us to examine and if necessary challenge the foundations of our worldviews, of ourselves, of our trust, our perceptions, our judgements. They're more than facilitators, they actively participated in many of the activities. They laughed, they cried, they expressed their anger, their rage, their deep love for the planet and all her creation. And so did we. It was exhausting. But it was also exhilarating, and inspiring, and a great opportunity to find some real solidarity with like-minded individuals and to emerge with the realization that we're in this together and, thankfully, there are some incredible beings who really truly love this planet.
It's tough, now, to begin with the big pile of work that faces me these next four days before I plunge into an intensive four day yoga workshop that will also challenge and exhaust me, leaving me also feeling refreshed and renewed and inspired with awe at the beauty of this world and our abilities to meet and rise above challenges we've never imagined. Right now I want to go somewhere else -- walk in the wilderness, swim in the ocean, plant seeds in organic soil. But I also want to stay right here, and do the work that contributes to, as Maggie and Jackie explained it, "The Great Turning ... the Ecozoic Shift."
So, here goes. Working from a place of gratitude - that I am blessed to do the work I do, that I live in such an amazingly beautiful part of the world, that I realize there is hope, there must be hope, for real and fundamental change so that we can at this last minute shift away from the dominant patriarchal capitalist structure and its focus on competition to the last man standing (the women having been pushed over first), having confronted my deep and profound grief and despair because this system is entrenched in thousands of years of social and political structures and maybe it really is too late to stop its destruction, feeling the pain of all my relations, native ancestors who realized a more profound and respectful connection with the spirits of the land, raging against the on-going rape and plundering war machine that allows and encourages men to put guns up womens' vaginas and then shoot them, acknowledging that the pain I feel for our collective loss is connected to the pain of all who suffer without letting it overcome me, wondering if the little birdies happily bathing on my balcony are the same ones I heard in the forest this weekend, remembering that I and you and everything I can see and touch and hear is created from a life process that began 13 and a half billion years ago, .... I proceed.