On the counter where I expected to find space to make soup and cheese there are books and unidentifiable metal objects. As soon as I clear the counter my sons will surely appear, insisting that those parts were arranged in some inscrutable order necessary to fix, reassemble or create something.
As I get carrots, cabbage and other ingredients I notice the refrigerator also happens to contain plastic bags filled with dirt balls called dorodango, part of an ongoing project my kids’ friends.
And while I drain the whey off cheese made from this morning’s milking, I look at the new comments written on the wipe-off surface of the world map on our kitchen wall. Everywhere around me are signs of my family’s lively engagement in the moment.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to stay in the moment. As I chop vegetables and stir spices into the soup I think about all that’s going on in the world. We hear the media’s relentless drumbeat of doom. If we pay attention we also sense subtle changes as awareness shifts around us. Some people constrict in fear. Yet slowly, many more find their consciousness opening. Amazing work is going on to insure sustainable energy, ecological fairness, justice and greater harmony.
Deep ecologist Joanna Macy, among others, calls this our time The Great Turning. This is a pivotal and undeniably perilous time for humanity and the earth itself. We are called to transition from relentless ego-driven profit-oriented individuals to a life-sustaining and spiritually aware humanity. This choice is the only survivable option for insuring life on earth.
Slowly, painfully and then gratefully we awaken to this understanding. My work right now—raising children, writing and learning, participating in my community, and considering my choices more carefully—this is part of this Great Turning. This is necessary. The very ordinary process of making soup and cheese is something precious, no less than the very remarkable process of taking part in a transformational epoch.
I’ve taken the liberty of sharing Joanna Macy’s suggestions for these times. Please go to her website or Google “great turning” for more information.
Personal Guidelines for the Great Turning by Joanna Macy
Come from Gratitude
To be alive in this beautiful, self-organizing universe–to participate in the dance of life with senses to perceive it, lungs that breathe it, organs that draw nourishment from it–is a wonder beyond words. Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. Furthermore, it is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.
Don’t be Afraid of the Dark
This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don’t be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, for these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings. To suffer with is the literal meaning of compassion.
Dare to Vision
Out of this darkness a new world can arise, not to be constructed by our minds so much as to emerge from our dreams. Even though we cannot see clearly how it’s going to turn out, we are still called to let the future into our imagination. We will never be able to build what we have not first cherished in our hearts..
Roll up your Sleeves
Many people don’t get involved in the Great Turning because there are so many different issues, which seem to compete with each other. Shall I save the whales or help battered children? The truth is that all aspects of the current crisis reflect the same mistake, setting ourselves apart and using others for our gain. So to heal one aspect helps the others to heal as well. Just find what you love to work on and take joy in that. Never try to do it alone. Link up with others; you’ll spark each others’ ideas and sustain each others’ energy..
Act your Age
Since every particle in your body goes back to the first flaring forth of space and time, you’re really as old as the universe. So when you are lobbying at your congressperson’s office, or visiting your local utility, or testifying at a hearing on nuclear waste, or standing up to protect an old grove of redwoods, you are doing that not out of some personal whim, but in the full authority of your 15 billions years.