One of the many phrases that will stay with me from this week at Women's Future First 2014 Congress is that of Joanna Macy: sustaining the gaze. Even though what we see in the world is frightening and enraging, it is so important we witness (not deny) what mankind has perpetrated upon our planet and to feel, to let ourselves have open hearts to Earth and her many inhabitants.

This conference is focusing on drafting of a Bill of Rights for Water. Joanna addressed three practices that have consequences for water with results that last forever: nuclear power and its radiation contamination; genetically modified organisms, which cannot be undone once in use ; and fracking, which forever contaminates ground water with chemicals that cannot be extracted.

She "met" with us by Skype from her East Bay home and spoke with wit about these matters so important to our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, our seven generations. Historically it is women who are the stewards of water, she reminded us. As we 450 women of all ages and great diversity, from all over the country, listened to this lively elder who has done so much to move people from despair and inaction to  protectors and guardians of future generations, we were summoned. Women everywhere, and Men too, the time is here! The time for waking and action is now.

"It is a great privilege to be alive when the future ones want so much," she said. She spoke of being willing-- even glad!-- to be living in a time with so much uncertainty.

And then Skype suddenly clicked off, and her image flashed away, as technology will do. There was no goodbye, only the lingering feeling in the room: here is an elder who sustained her gaze. She showed us it can be done, that, in fact, grief opens hearts, softens us, opens us to gratitude for the abundance of Earth and for each other. That what we do needs to be done out of love of the Earth, of each other, of our ancestral lineage, and of future generations.

You too can join this movement. My friend and colleague Leah Shelleda is attending the conference with me. Next weekend, November 15,  Leah, Naomi Lowinsky, and I will be offering a writing seminar Wounded Earth, Wounded Psyche through the C. G. Jung Institute in San Francisco. Please join us. We have each other, most important in facing a crisis of this size, and writing helps heal and move us to action. We hope to see you there!

 

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Comment by Patricia Damery on November 28, 2014 at 8:12pm

Thank you all for your wonderful comments. Joanna Macy has gifted us with a way to hold our grief and fear in ways that bring action, not denial. 

Comment by Bonnie Bright on November 11, 2014 at 6:29pm

What a beautiful transmission, Patricia—both from Joanna to you (all), and from you to the community here. Thank you so much for taking the time to share. Good luck in the workshop: wish I could be there.

Comment by Patricia Damery on November 11, 2014 at 6:05pm

I am sorry that you cannot join us, but very much appreciate your response and your poem. 

Comment by Mr. Jeffery J. Rahn on November 11, 2014 at 3:38pm

lovely. I'll copy this to my Daughter on facebook. She is a farmer. We are poor ( currently saving to purchase a farm) and can't afford traveling to the Bay Area like we did in the old daz. Good writing and heartfelt thinking.

a poem

improper English ( for I. M. Pei)
a caring friend shares that others may be offended
by my lack of proper English. 
I'm frustrating readers with improper English.
His observation is meant lovingly,
but I take it as a bit of a slight.
instinctively I want to bite back or introject
his comments by turning them
against myself.
after several weeks of ruminating on his comments. 
I realize I have no answers or any more ability to 
write or speak proper English than I did 
when he first delivered his 
observation.
in the end I'm left with one fundamental question:
can I tolerate my despicableness and non proper English? 
can I love myself enough to write and 
write "poorly" or is it badly?
Can i love myself enough to die to ghosts 
I don't have names for. Complexes 
that may dominate me?
Voltaire's was a man of reason that sounded
pretty reasonable but in fact was
as flawed as every other man.
Will I sculpt a big barrel chested 
double breasted facade of 
myself?
or will I admit my 
humanness?
Jeffery J. Rahn
2014


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