When they said –
Repent Repent Repent …
I wonder what they meant.
The blizzard, the Blizzard of the World
has crossed the threshold and it’s
overturned the order of the soul.
– Leonard Cohen
Some dogs sit satisfied in their kennels. But someone
who last year drank ecstatic
union, the pre-eternity agreement, who this year has a hangover
from bad desire wine, the way
he cries out for the majesty he’s lost, give me his longing!
(from Prayer to be Changed)
There are diseases about which no one complains – not because we do not suffer from them – but because they do not manifest symptoms which cause pain in a way we’re used to recognizing.
If your appendix becomes inflamed, Pain will let you know that you have a problem that you’d better deal with.
But suppose we are “alienated”. Suppose we lack a heart connection (love, wonder, awe, a sense of mystery and appreciation) with the world which gave birth to us and keeps us alive?
We grow from this world – much the way that apples grow on an apple tree. Is it not so?
Every day the Earth gives us air and water and food and warmth. But (like a punk kid) we feel nothing. We’re willing to receive the (ongoing) gift of life … but are we overcome with awe and gratitude? Hardly! And we do not feel protective of the Great Mother.
So … it’s a mess. We’re a mess.
This (alienation) is a serious Spiritual Disease.
In his book, The GREAT WORK – Our Way into the Future Thomas Berry says –
“The difficulty is that with the rise of the modern sciences we began to think of the universe as a collection of objects rather than as a communion of subjects. We frequently discuss the loss of the interior spirit world of the human mind with the rise of the modern mechanistic sciences. The more significant realization, however, is that we have lost the universe itself. We have achieved extensive control over the mechanistic and even the biological functioning of the natural world, but this control has not always had beneficial consequences. We have not only controlled the planet in much of its basic functioning, we have, to an extensive degree, extinguished the life systems themselves. We have silenced too many of those wonderful voices of the universe that spoke to us of the grand mysteries of existence.
We no longer hear the voice of the rivers, the mountains, or the sea. The trees and meadows are no longer intimate modes of spirit presence. The world about us has become an “it” rather than a “thou” …”
There is a fine documentary film by an Icelandic woman: “Inn Saeii – The Power of Intuition”
in which she takes you through her own personal struggle with this Problem.
It’s an hour and 10 minutes long, but if it’s feasible, I suggest you watch it now. And if you can’t – watch it later (when you have an hour).
It is crucial – that we find the ability to mourn – to mourn for our own spiritual poverty. Mourning then can lead to repentance. We may then be able to forsake, to turn away from even a well-trodden path.
As Robert Bly points out –
“No healing can take place until we decide to think actively about the dark side. Each of us has a dark side. If I shout at my small sons, I can say that I have a fatherly duty to discipline them, but we know that this shouting has a dark side. When so many whites moved to the suburbs in the Fifties, wasn’t that a simple longing for open space? But it had a dark side. The dark side was that we let the centers of our cities disintegrate, in the same way that we let the center of our psyche disintegrate. When entertainment, in the form of television, floods our house every night, we are only sitting and listening. This is a simple thing surely, isn’t it? But it has a dark side. It has a very strong dark side, in that we don’t have to entertain others, or enter any larger sort of community to be entertained.”
Here’s an example from my own life :
Some years ago – I came to the realization that I was ‘stealing from my friends’.
This would be in the form of subtle (covert) mental manipulation.
If, say, I wanted a ride somewhere (and wanted them to take me) – I would talk with them in such a way as to get them to do it. The decent and respectful way – would have been simply to ask them … to give them a choice. They could say yes or no. But I was not willing to take such a risk. I was going to (without them knowing it) control the outcome.
Once I realized what I was doing (and the ugliness of it) I reckoned that it amounted to ‘stealing’ – since stealth is the preferred mode of theft; it’s much better than bold and undisguised force (unless you’re marketing intimidation). Then I realized that if I would steal from my friends … no one was safe from me.
I saw, I mourned, I repented … I gave it up. I did not want to be such a person.
We are the ones who poison the rivers. We are the ones who pollute the air. We are the ones who wage the wars. We are the ones who cut down the forests (the lungs of the earth). It is we who perform the “ethnic cleansings” and the genocides. We are the ones who are wiping out entire species by the thousands. We are the authors of the Titanic and the Great Dust Bowl.
Is it not so?
For the money?
We need to be able to see it.
To own it.
Change. Do better.
And we are unaccustomed to doing this, but
If we do not … we’ll go down.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIQEnrQDj5o (Inn Saeii – The Power of Intuition)
For a Coming Extinction
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing
|I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day
The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And foreordaining as stars
Join your word to theirs
That it is we who are important
– W. S. Merwin