The Great Turning described by Joanna Macy is in essence a spiritual transformation. She has offered a process for people to work on that transformation together—The Work that Reconnects.
It begins with the practice of gratitude. Macy says that gratitude is revolutionary in a world that tells us we are not enough, and we don’t have enough. Gratitude is a remedy for rampant consumerism. Gratitude is how we open our eyes to the beauty of what is now—the beauty of the shining sun and the nourishing rain. The gifts of creativity and relationship. The gifts of friendship and community, the food we eat, and the shelter over our heads. Gratitude can heal our souls, and give us strength to face the challenges of our time.
The second part of this spiritual work is to honor our pain for the world. When we open our eyes to the suffering being caused by the system as it is, we do feel incredible pain; we feel pain when we see how far we are from the future we can imagine. Macy reminds us that our pain comes from our sense of connection, and connection is what will save us. We hope to deepen our awareness of our connection with all people and all beings on this earth. And yet, as we deepen our awareness, we deepen our compassion, and we feel even more that pain of the world. We must choose not to run away from that, but to honor our pain as a signal of our connection.
That leads us directly into the third part of this spiritual work: to see with new eyes, to feel ourselves a part of the larger whole. We awaken to the reality that we are connected to all other human beings, that we belong to this earth, this beautiful living planet, and we have the power to make a difference on the earth.
The fourth part of the spiritual work is to go forth and use our gifts to participate in some way in the Great Turning. Macy identifies three areas of this work.
There are what she calls “holding actions” like protests and lobbying on behalf of the environment, or against foreclosures. Some people need to be sitting in trees and marching in the streets.
There are also experiments in what Macy calls, “Gaian structures,” new, or sometimes very old, ways to live that are sustainable and connected. Some people need to be gardening, and building carbon neutral houses, and installing solar and wind power.
There is also the important work of shifting the consciousness of those around us. Some of us need to be writing books, and creating songs, and teaching young people about how to live as if we are a part of everything else.
Because there is so much to do, we can do that which most calls to us.
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