Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Climate Scoreboard

Dear Friends,

With the United Nations Climate Change Conference now under way in Copenhagen, you might be interested in following the progress of the negotiations. If you go to this link, http://climateinteractive.org/scoreboard, you can see various simulations and forms of analysis, AND you can download a widget that will keep you up to date on the latest proposals.

You can really help this effort by sharing the widget as widely as possible--on websites, blogs, and social networking sites, as well as through your email networks. The goal is to have, in as many places as possible, a clear and ongoing awareness of how far the current climate deal might move us toward our goals and how much further we might still have to go.

Yours in peace and hope,

Friday, June 12, 2009

Reconstituting the World

Dear Friends,

More than anything, this blog was conceived as an open and heartfelt conversation about how we embrace life in a changing world. I’m touched that so many of you have taken the time—and the risk—to engage with me and with one another in that spirit. I honor the sincerity and variety of what you’ve shared, both on- and off-line, and I thank you for caring enough to participate.

In a commencement address at the University of Portland in early May, Paul Hawken spoke to all of us when he said: “What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world.” He went on to quote the poet Adrienne Rich: "So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world."

Several of you have written about working to change the world “out there,” only to realize that change begins “in here.” An honest appraisal of where change might be needed “in here” leads to the twin dilemmas of distinguishing inner imperatives from outer obligations and reclaiming the authentic self from the judgments and demands of the past. It’s that process that brings so many of us face to face with the natural world as a source of grounding, identity, healing, and peace.

Much has been written about the (often unconscious) collective grief that we experience in response to the current suffering of the natural world. Hawken reminded us of our intimate relationship to nature when he said in Portland, “The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. . . . We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. . . . In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours.”

Miraculously though, as Hawken went on to say, “Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.”

Not long ago, I had a dream about looking back on my life after death and being moved to tears by those few things I’d made (bowls, baskets, drawings, poems) or done (gestures of kindness, smiles of recognition) that were spontaneous expressions of my own uniqueness. Simple and humble though they were, they represented isolated instances in which I’d been totally aligned with the life force and engaged with the outer world in the present moment.

From that after-death perspective, those small moments seemed utterly pure and poignant to me, and they stood out in marked contrast to everything else I’d done in my lifetime. I awoke in tears when I saw how often I’d acted out of duty, obligation, or expectation and how much time and energy I’d squandered on anger, resentment, and judgment of various kinds. I saw how those isolated moments of pure spontaneity had enlarged me and taken me out of struggle—how they’d opened my heart to inspiration, cooperation, and a sense of oneness with all life—how they’d put me in touch with a creative source larger than myself.

I remembered reading or hearing somewhere the idea that the Divine created the world in order to see Itself in reflection, and I found myself wondering if our ultimate purpose in life (and our ultimate gift to the Divine) might not be the simple and joyful expression of our own uniqueness. Just as we ourselves delight in the spontaneity of children, so, too, might the universe delight in our spontaneity when it brings something altogether new into being—something even the Divine might not imagine in quite the same way, since our creativity arises from a mortal perspective.

More and more now, as I reflect on the beauty and pain of the world and wrestle with my own complex responses to them, I wonder if we’re not invited to embrace life as it is with compassion, joy, curiosity, adventure, and a sense of play. I wonder if we’re not invited—individually and collectively—to be co-creators with the Divine in celebrating beauty and healing pain out of the depths of our own authenticity and our own inventiveness. For me, that perspective encompasses not only the realities of change and rebirth but also the paradox of individuality and non-duality that some of you have mentioned in your comments.

“What I do is me: for that I came.” (Hopkins)
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” (Rumi)

For me, reading those lines is like finally understanding my job description, and it differs radically from the one I’ve been following for far too long. I think it’s about reconstituting the world by embracing ourselves and one another, wholeheartedly and as we are, in partnership with nature and in alignment with the creative impulse at the heart of life itself. I think it’s about being joyful, caring, imaginative, and aware. I think it’s about recognizing that we're all interconnected and remembering that “our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life."

With love and blessings,

Monday, May 18, 2009

Posting Comments

Dear Friends,

I want to offer my apologies to those of you who've had trouble posting comments. I respect your time, I value your input, and I want this blog to be user-friendly in order to serve all of us. I'm very sorry that some of you found it intimidating or difficult the first time around.

Since I'm new to this myself, I neglected to adjust the default settings for the comments function when I launched the blog. I've now done that, so it should be possible for anyone to post a comment using their name only.

For step-by-step instructions, please see the sidebar to the right.

Thank you for your interest and perseverance,


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Co-Creating Change

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 5
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces; 10
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

--Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89). Poems. 1918.

Dear Friends,

Shortly after 9/11, it came to me that we needed to do two things: (1) start a global dialogue on conflict resolution, and (2) co-create new solutions to the challenges we face as a global community (poverty, violence, militarism, materialism, and environmental degradation, for starters). I'd never been much of an activist before, the task seemed overwhelming, and I had no idea where to start.

Somehow, my life since that time has constellated itself around those two endeavors. With much trial and error--not to mention the support, example, and camaraderie of activists and visionaries I've met along the way--I've found myself "making the path by walking."

My own journey has taken me from the wrenching horror of 9/11 to shock and outrage over the violence and injustice that have followed from that; through seven years of peace-building efforts and issues-oriented activism; to sustainability-conscious living off the grid, in community, and on a working farm; to a renewed appreciation of our sheer aliveness in a rare and precious world. I find myself longing now to slow down and embrace that aliveness in some new way that can help us move forward together in a spirit of adventure and joy.

I'm starting my blog with these verses from Hopkins because I believe each of us brings something to the world out of our own uniqueness--something essential and irreplaceable, even sacred, that's needed by the collective if we hope to craft new solutions in this time of challenge and change. The more I myself try to live mindfully and sustainably, the more I realize that everything I do affects someone else and that my own well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of all life on this planet. The more troubled I am by violence in the world, the more I see that peace begins with me. The more I seek solutions, the more I understand my need for companions and colleagues to lift my spirits, expand my thinking, and teach me skills I haven't yet mastered.

While I have no idea what this blog will encompass or where it will lead, I see it as an experiment in co-creation--an open-ended process of sharing and discovery that can build new connections and seed new possibilities. I welcome your offerings and your comments, I hope our exchanges can be heartfelt, and I look forward to seeing where the conversation takes us.

Yours in change,


Some initial questions to consider:

1. What sort of change have you found most challenging in your own life? How have you experienced that, and where has it taken you?

2. How do you feel about change--change that's voluntary versus change that's imposed on you by outside circumstances?

3. How would you describe your growing edge in embracing change?

4. Do you see larger patterns of change in the world? If so, how would you describe them and what do you make of them?