You know how it is when a news source prints an article, then realizes an error was made – sometimes egregious – that when the correction appears, it goes often unnoticed, and is irrelevant by then. Well, this is it, my friends. I was wrong about many things in my previous post. That was not an alphabet of awakening, but one of annihilation.

But this correction is not at all irrelevant, and the correction that was made was to me.

After I put that post out there, my husband, sensing my distress perhaps, invited me to step outside for a long walk through the snowy streets of our village, where it was good to get out of my head. While out there, I remembered , as often I do, where to ground myself — in Love, not despair, in Beauty, not fear.

I know just enough to know that my brain is biased evolutionarily toward negativity, to not be ‘keeping a look out’ for the Good but for the dangerous. I know just enough to know that the algorithms of the internet can reinforce our biases as we fall down its suggested rabbit holes. I know that I do much more Good in the world by being a presence of compassion, of stillness, of hope, of peace, of wonder, of depth, of silence, or joy than I could possibly do by bringing more fear to it.

I also remembered, as I often do out there, my smallness, and not in a way that made me feel hopeless, but humble, in a way that helped me remember the Vastness of Love (of the Universe) relative to our human failings. I understood that of course I cannot bear the weight of this world on my shoulders, but can be present to it with Love in my heart. And I can trust that there is One who can bear it, who is far Wiser than me, who sings ‘Fear Not’ into the night.

And I can soften into that Grace.

alphabet of awakening

Those who will not slip beneath

the still surface on the well of grief,

turning down through its black water

to the place we cannot breathe,

will never know the source from which we drink,

the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering the small round coins,

thrown by those who wished for something else.

-David Whyte, Well of Grief

Yesterday’s practice seems to have opened a well of grief within me, as if the cap of some ancient source has been pried loose.  It’s mingled with other griefs within me, I suppose, like the Big One I carry for the pain of a precious loved one, and suddenly feels much larger than the possible space that contained it.

After reading yesterday’s post, a friend sent me this article from Sun Magazine, on the consequences to the earth of our human plunder, equally bleak – with small slivers of gold threaded through its dark cloth. Sitting with my journal this morning, as a reread the article for the 3rd time, trying to absorb the weight of its message, I jotted down words, as they jumped off the page, just to help me to sift and to sort, I suppose, and to get them out of my body, where a preponderance of words such as these are a bit too heavy to bear.

I’ve arranged them here in a sort of Alphabet of Awakening. Where there was a positive feeling word for a particular letter, I placed it at the end of the list, as a sort of movement towards grace.

Appropriation, abysmal, antagonism, anthropocentrism, affordness of place, agreology, alignment , awe, abundant, ancient

Bleak , barren, biome, biological wealth

Catastrophic, colonialism, collapse, clear cut, consumption, constructed, conqueror, callous, cruelty, control, command, cynicism, curiosity, challenge, consciousness, connectivity, conserve

Defaunation, disparagement, domination, destruction, disjunction, demeaning, dispensible, devastation, depletion, devoid, demolish, dislocate, damage, disenchantment, dependency, degrowth,

Ecological collapse, extinguish, extravagance at the expense of the other, engineered , emergency, emptying, entitlement, exterminate, egregious, educate, ethical, embrace

Factory farming, freshwater, forests

Global, greed, guilt, grief, geographical takeover, goodness, gift, gratitude

Human supremacy, human impoverishment, human catastrophe, hollow illusion, holocaust, humanization, human participation, habitat, heal

Invasion, impoverish, impossible, inhabit, intrinsic, imagination, inherent worth,


Loss, local, love,

Monumental, mass extinction, mass production, monstrous mandate, monotonous, monoculture, materialism, mindless, mitigation, minimalism, mystery,

Normality, non-human, nutritious

Onslaught , oppression, overconsumption, oasis

Pain, pressure, poaching, pollution, populations, property, power, plague, poison, plunder, participate, principal, precious, planet, protection

Reverberation, revolted, revulsion, revolution, remorse, rage, resignation, resistance, reckoning, remembering, rescue, radical, respect, restore, relationship

Supremacy, supremacy, supremacy, subjugate, suffering , super-killing, selfishness, spread, shame, survival, sorrow, sacrifice, slowness, socialization, splendor

Technological, trajectory, threat, trance

Unconscious, unethical, unraveling, upheaval, used, unique

Virulent, violence, verdant, viable

Worldview, waste, weight, wrecking ball, wild ecology, worth, wholesome, waking, wonder,

In my inbox this morning, I also received a beautiful visual offering of prayer, which included a description of prayer as dance. I have long experienced this Great Conversation between myself and God ( between humanity and the divine) much like that, an embodied/cosmic dance where Godde is most willing to alternately lead and follow, needing us as much as we Need.  I’ve imaged Godde’s alternate surprise and sorrow in that dance, along with the subsequent sigh, of delight or acquiescence, “Ok, I’ll go with you there”.

May it be so in this grave moment, for we are surely in need of some holy partnership as we make our way through this dark human-made passage.

What does that dance look like, for me, on this day? One of unbearable sorrow, a stagger, an assuaging sway, each of us upholding the other ….


But outside my window, it is beginning to snow… As I watch, I listen to this song, Let It Fall, by Over the Rhine. I let it wash over me, a healing wash, one of full bodied surrender and grace. I imagine it to be a song, to which I am being invited, by the Divine, to dance on this day.

I’ve my snowshoes at the ready, by the door, eager to enter into the hushed silence of that blessed snow bathed wonder just outside my door, where I will continue to clumsily fall, I suppose –in love, and in falter—where I will continue to bear witness, and belong deeply to, this terrible fleeting eternal  beauty.

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