They came,
concerned and discouraged
about future life on the planet.
After a day together
deeply engaged
in the work
of the Deep Ecology Deep Hope retreat,
they left,
committed and encouraged.

DSCN8696The Cosmic Walk

DSCN8699The Truth Mandala

One of the exercises
we participate in
during the Deep Ecology
Deep Hope retreat
is the Mirror Walk.
One person closes her eyes
and the other person guides
her to something in nature,
invites the closed-eyes-one
to touch it,
then to get up close to it
and open her eyes
as the guide says,
“Open your eyes
and look in the mirror.”
We did this exercise Saturday
and then talked about our experiences.
When I asked,
what did you feel when your guide
asked you to look in the mirror,
everyone laughed: “Oh,
we forgot that part!”
This happens with every group
every time we do this exercise,
even though, by now, I’ve learned
to stress this part. During the instructions
I say, repeatedly, “When you ask them
to open their eyes, say, ‘Open your eyes
and look in the mirror.”
Rarely does this happen, which helps me realize
how deeply it is embedded in us—
Western, non-indigenous people—
that we are separate from the natural world.
How much hope I have,
that in the evolution of humanity
when we come to understand deeply—
like our indigenous sisters and brothers—
that we are part of the natural world,
we will make changes in our lives
so that all life
can flourish.

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Not being one to ignore
global warming
and it’s impacts on life
on Earth,
I have found myself
in moments
outraged,
overwhelmed,
deeply saddened,
profoundly discouraged.
And yet,
it has been those unpleasant,
desperate,
moments
that have led me
to a certain kind
of hope.
The kind of hope
borne of the knowledge
that everything we do
matters
and everything we don’t do
matters.
Several teachers/writers
have helped me understand
that this is so
because the Earth is one living organism.
The values we live/put into the living systems
of which we are a part,
create change,
create the systems
that create life on the planet.
I still need reminding,
from time to time
and the teachings of Joanna Macy,
Margaret Wheatley, Leonardo Boff,
Meister Eckhart, Tielhard de Chardin,
Bryan Swimme, Thomas Berry
deepen my understanding,
my resolve,
my hope,
with every re-reading
and every time we offer
the Active Hope retreat.
On this day together,
we face our fears,
grieve the losses,
learn to see with new eyes
and move into action
with more-than-hope:
with the assurance
that everything we do
to contribute to life for all
matters.

Join us next time
for our Active Hope retreat:
Saturday, February 28.
You can register
on our website.

 

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On retreat at a conference center
connected to the cathedral grounds
in Oklahoma City,
a group of spiritual directors
paired up
to make the Mirror Walk.
There were tree blossoms,
flower blossoms.
Tiny seeds had sprouted
two opposing green leaves
poking up through the tiny holes of a grate
around the base of a budding tree.
Robins were making nests.
A pigeon couple
was watching over their new babes
tucked high inside a gazebo.

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One person closes their eyes
and another guides them,
points their face in the direction
of something in nature,
as if focusing a camera,
then says to their partner:
“Open your eyes
and look in the mirror.”
The exercise,
created by Joanna Macy,
is designed to help humans
begin to get in touch with
the fact that humans
are part of the natural world.

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The moment when Nancy, focusing Steve’s face toward the pigeons and their nest full of babes,
tells him “Open your eyes and look in the mirror!”

Back home,
though we are only 80 miles north,
our springing is not as far along.
Two days ago
I saw the first Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
of the season.
This morning, for the first time this year,
Mockingbird was singing
his entire repertoire.
The Hackberry
leaves are unfurling.

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As I look in these “mirrors,”
I wonder if I’ll ever
unfurl enough
from my human-centeredness
to grasp
completely
the breadth and depth,
the exquisite beauty,
the incomprehensible myriad of details
in the life of which
I am a part;
the importance
of my job
as mere observer.

 

We hear this often:
something like…”I recycle,
I changed all my light bulbs,
I do other things,
but it doesn’t seem to help.
The planet is warming;
there’s still one climate disaster
after another.”
And we can relate:
it’s easy to be overwhelmed
and paralyzed—
global warming seems
to be unstoppable
and our efforts seem
too little
too late.DSCN0778

At Work That Reconnects Retreat in New Mexico

Last August,
I attended a retreat in New Mexico
where I learned
The Work That Reconnects—
teachings and experiences
that help us come to know
deeply
our interdependence
with all life on the planet.
Coming to know
that that matters;
coming to know
that doing what we do
is how new emerges,
I have found the kind of hope
that sustains me
through the challenges
we humans and all life
experience now,
due to economic
and environmental destruction.
It is hope
founded in action.

I’ve learned better
how living systems work
and that everything we do—
because of that interdependence—
does matter.
In fact, living our values
is the most important thing we can do.
This is no time
to be overwhelmed and paralyzed.
New emerges
from the values we live.

Joanna Macy has been teaching
The Work That Reconnects
for 40 years. Using her work,
with input from Margaret Wheatley‘s
and Carolyn Baker‘s writings,
we offer a day away,
a retreat,
to begin to learn The Work
That Reconnects
and the steps to take
toward Active Hope.

Joining us that day
is another of Joanna’s students,
who has experienced many
Work That Reconnects trainings.
We met her at the retreat in New Mexico.
She is a native Oklahoman
returning for a visit,
and we are very glad
she will be with us
and are grateful for her sharing.
Join us
for a heartening day
together.
It’s Saturday, April 12.
To register,
go to our website’s calendar.


One of the pods at Oakcreek Senior Co-Housing Community,
Stillwater, Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s first and only
co-housing community
is in Stillwater:
Oakcreek Senior Co-Housing Community.
It was delightful
to spend the weekend with these
wonderful people; people committed
to the Danish-inspired concept
of collaborative community.
They have built a lovely neighborhood
of 24 homes creekside in Stillwater,
centered around a “Common House,”
the social hub of life together.
Sharing the work of community,
residents make major decisions by consensus.
They are a sustainable community as well:
many green building practices,
including geo-thermal and reduced water use;
recycling, composting, native planting….

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Brainstorming the ways of the Great Turning to a Life-Sustaining Society

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Laying down the Cosmic Walk

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Making the Cosmic Walk—the story of the universe

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Playing the Open Systems Game

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Being led blindly in the Mirror Walk

DSCN2950During the Mirror Walk, at Oakcreek

People already extremely conscious
of their carbon footprint on the planet,
and committed to living as a sustainable community,
they set aside last weekend
to explore how they can more deeply
live their values.
We were happy to introduce them
to Joanna Macy’s teachings
around “The Work that Reconnects”—
ways to grow the understanding
of our interdependence, our connectedness
with the great web of life
of which we are a part;
an on-going perspective change,
that helps us help heal the planet.

DSCN2955The Oakcreek Community, at the end of the retreat

So often,
here at Turtle Rock Farm,
we are thrilled when children
connect with the natural world
and learn about their planet home.
It is a thrill as well
to be with these seniors,
who have made a great commitment
to do the work
of living sustainably,
of helping to heal the planet.
Thank you all!

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Here,
a few of the books this year
that inspire,
transform,
inform,
teach,
entertain—
keep us doing what we do
at Turtle Rock Farm:
A Center for Sustainability, Spiritualityand Healing.

Active Hope. How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy
by Joanna Macy and Christ Johnston

So Far From Home. Lost and Found in Our Brave New World
by Margaret Wheatley

Collapsing Consciously. Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times
by Carolyn Baker

Living Beautifully with uncertainty and change
by Pema Chodron

Field of Compassion. How the New Cosmology is Transforming Spiritual Life
by Judy Cannato

Immortal Diamond. The Search for Our True Self
by Richard Rohr

Living Presence: A Sufi Way to Mindfulness and the Essential Self
Kabir Edmund Helminski

Poetry by Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry

The Illuminated Rumi
Coleman Banks and Michael Green

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings. A 21st Century Bestiaryby Caspar Henderson

Clear Water. A Haiku Invitation into our Luminous, Sacred World
by Jeannie Martin

Margaret Wheatley:

Hope is not a feeling that comes and goes with external circumstances. Hope is who we are independent of outcomes. Hope is as basic to humans as compassion and intelligence. It is always present, it never leaves us. It is not dependent on success and not afflicted by failure. Thus, it is free from fear. And without fear, we can see clearly. We see what our work is, we have the strength to persevere, we do what we feel is right work and, as poet T.S. Eliot wrote, ‘the rest is not our business.’

Richard Rohr:

Love, which is nothing more than endless life, is luring us forward, because love is what we also and already are and we are drawn to the fullness of our own being.

Judy Cannato:

…life emerges from what physicist David Bohm called the quantum vacuum. Bohm said, ‘There is one energy that is the basis of all reality.’ According to Bohm, the quantum vacuum is the fundamental underlying reality of which everything int he universe is an expression—everything—including ourselves…Emerging from the single quantum vacuum, it seems that we remain connected throughout our lives, bound together by a mysterious energy that makes all creation a single whole…Our exploration together is concerned with living with the awareness of our connectedness and making choices that are life-giving for all.

Jeannie Martin:

Can we also, in this modern culture, accept and welcome all living things with reverence and gratitude? We might, for example, spend time looking at the stars, or one star, and breathing in the peace and quiet of a winter night. We might wonder at the magnitude of the Milky Way and what might be beyond our universe. It is easy with all of our machinery to miss this wonder, but Nature is always pressing in, reminding us of who we are in the family of creation.

somewhere
in the Milky Way
first starlight

Caspar Henderson:

Not many living things leave a beautiful corpse. Among those that do are the ancient oak trees still found in a few pockets of woodland in the British isles, and the Nautilus, a distant cousin of squid and octopus that lives in tropical waters. In the case of an old oak, the folds and twists in its trunk and boughs continue to express, suspended as in a sculpture, forces that shaped the tree during its five hundred years of life. Int he case of the Nautilus, the animal that accreted the shell had a relatively brief existence, typically less than ten years, but what remains — in cross section a logarithmic spiral — manifests perfect symmetry. The oak is a like a massive, turbulent musical score; the Nautilus shell is like a chord resolved.

DSCN2027Morning Sky 24 November

…when we know and revere the wholeness of life, we can stay alert and steady. We know there is no private salvation. We join hands to find the ways the world self-heals—and see the chaos as seedbed for the future.

—Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown
Coming Back to Life. Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World