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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: