A few weeks ago I spent two days with 30 other people immersed in collective grief expression and ritual, led by Francis Weller - a soulful author, therapist and grief ritual practitioner whom I greatly admire.
It was a time of learning and reconnecting with practices that felt like a lost tradition within our soulful right as emotional and spiritual beings. It was also a time of reflection, connection and witnessing each other in whatever grief and rage arose.
Although many things arose for me that weekend, the one pervasive sorrow that is always present within my heart is the pain I feel for our world.
Six years ago I was immobilized by this pain - the despair knocked me flat. It took a long time to regain my footing. (An experience I will share more about in later posts). I am now grateful for this time of devastation, as it has gifted me a deeper experience of our oneness and connection with all life.
And, I am continually learning how to live with it, and to harness it in a way that it is a gift.
I have learned that creating opportunities for me to share this pain in the presence of others is the most healing thing I can do…for myself and the world.
Our world needs our tears. Joanna Macy eloquently writes:
The truth of our inter-existence, made real to us by our pain for the world, helps us see with new eyes.
It is why I do the work that I do. I feel called to create more community spaces for us to share our grief and pain with each other so it can be held and then released and transformed into compassionate awareness, action and collective healing. So that we can see with new eyes.
It gives me hope.
I believe that grief for the suffering of our world is a form of activism – it is necessary, especially when we live in a society that makes it so easy for us to numb out.
That weekend in sacred ritual space, Francis invited us to write. One of my journal prompts was “I will not pretend…” and I had 10 minutes of stream of consciousness, before sharing my raw words within the communal grief container that we had created together.
I now share this little piece of my heart with you, in its raw anger and sadness. My heart continues to reach out and continues to break open – spacious enough for both grief and love.
I will not pretend
I will not pretend to be okay with how the world is.
I will not pretend that oil in our rivers, suffocating beautiful life is okay.
I will not pretend that our political and corporate systems are led by conscious, heart-centered individuals, when in fact I mainly see wounded children living in their shadow qualities that out-pour as greed, selfishness, and power hunger – blind to the oneness that we are.
I will not pretend that living in a society that numbs out doesn’t affect me to my very soul – my heart broken every-day.
I will not pretend that pictures of emaciated polar bears on my Facebook screen doesn’t pierce my heart so sharply that I am left alone in my kitchen to cry the tears of the world.
I will not pretend that I am okay with the violence that blares from TV screens in millions of homes each night across the globe, feeding fear and insecurity and separateness.
I will not pretend that news stories of good people saving a whale from suffocating on plastic is something to celebrate – our own need to feel like we are saviors, when in fact we are drowning our earth in the toxicity of our own waste.
The whales are SPEAKING to us – they are making themselves known – they are crying for help. They are signs.
We are ONE. We are fucking ONE.
When will we come to see that what we do to the beauty around us is what we are doing to ourselves?
When will we feel that another clear-cut forest is another puncture wound in our own precious body?
I will not pretend that things are okay.
I rage against the status quo. I rage against anything that numbs.
And under my rage is a profound sorrow.
And under that sorrow is a profound connection.
This is my heart calling out. Let’s gather together, drink our tears together, and let this elixir wake us up to re-remember where we came from.
And in this re-remembering, we will come to know intimately that we are all one. And, we will be called out of our slumber to act in service for our earth, our cosmos, ourselves.
Thank you for witnessing.
Shauna Janz, MA is a teacher, mentor, and facilitator at the crossroads of grief, trauma, ritual and ancestral healing. She is the founder of Sacred Grief offering immersive online programs for folks interested in deepening their skills in these areas.
Be the first to know about offerings and other resources by signing up for the newsletter.