Intimate Relationship as a Spiritual Crucible

Some kind of breakdown is usually necessary before any significant breakthrough into new ways of living not so encumbered by past conditioning. Charnel ground, then, is a metaphor for this breakdown/breakthrough process that is an essential part of human growth and evolution, and one of the gifts of a deep, intimate connection is that it naturally sets this process in motion. Yet no one wants to be dismantled. So there are two main ways that people try to abort this process: running away and spiritual bypassing.

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Up Ghost River wins the Speaker’s Book Award

Monday evening was devoted to Up Ghost River, Edmund Metatawabin’s memoir of surviving St. Anne’s Residential School, coping with alcoholism and PTSD, and becoming Chief of Fort Albany First Nation.

Up Ghost River won the Ontario Legislative Assembly Speaker’s Book Award. The ceremony was held at Queen’s Park, the Ontario Legislature. Edmund and his wife, Joan, were able to attend the ceremony—no small feat, as they came about 1200 km. They travelled for two days from Fort Albany to Toronto, driving on an ice road to Timmins and flying the rest of the way. Continue reading “Up Ghost River wins the Speaker’s Book Award”

The Intelligence in All Kinds of Life

I was teaching the names [of plants] and ignoring the songs.

I was entranced by this conversation with Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Kimmerer speaks of the shortcomings of science and language in describing and relating to inanimate objects, namely plants. How much more could we learn about other beings if we knew how to listen, instead of simply speaking about and categorizing them? Would we respect inanimate objects more if we endowed them with personhood? How would our relationship to the land improve? And can we really call plants, some of which close and open their leaves and turn their heads to follow a light source, inanimate?  Continue reading “The Intelligence in All Kinds of Life”

“We’ve hit a troubling climate change milestone”

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A view of the Kronebreen Glacier in northern Norway. Credit: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images/File 2015

In May campaigners around the world will converge on the world’s biggest carbon deposits: the coal mines of Australia, the tarsands of Canada, the gasfields of Russia. And they will engage in peaceful civil disobedience, an effort to simply say: no. The only safe place for this carbon is deep beneath the soil, where’s it been for eons.

This is, in one sense, stupid. It’s ridiculous that at this late date, as the temperature climbs so perilously, we still have to take such steps. Why do Bostonians have to be arrested to stop the Spectra pipeline? Anyone with a thermometer can see that we desperately need to be building solar and windpower instead.

In a much deeper sense, however, the resistance is valiant, even beautiful. Think of those protesters as the planet’s antibodies, its immune system finally kicking in. Our one earth is running a fever the likes of which no human has ever seen. The time to fight it is right now.

Bill McKibben

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