It is a strange feeling to be at home and feel homesick at the same time. At first I did not recognize it as homesickness and labeled it as grief, as sadness, maybe a climate depression, rage over the rapid demolition of our natural world. Then I realized I’m grieving deeply over the loss of our natural habitat, I can feel nature withdraw itself from us, giving up on us and it leaves me in dispair. She has given us everything she has, not holding back one lick of her love and gifts, and we took it all so eagerly without giving anything back. Not even a simple thank you. Lately when I thank the Earth before dinner my 10 year old son is ashamed. He begged me to at least not do it in front of guests. My son, raised by me, a Waldorf school student and growing up in nature. It says it all : we have culturally been taught to ridicule awareness in and towards anything else as humans. This has a price. I feel it coming and am overwhelmed. So long there has been this solid hope that one day we would all wake up and save our world, love all of it again, not only cars and shopping, but all the trees and animals and flowers and wind and rain too. That we would come to senses and remember that our planet is their home too. Maybe even appreciate them. Learn to love them. Give thanks once in a while. But now, with this creeping realization that nature is our only home and now what’s left of her is pulling away from us, maybe soon there is no home to return to, for them, for us. I have to force myself to find new ways to make room for nature. To set aside everything I want or need and turn the table. Time has come to ask her and all other inhabitants of Earth: what do you want? what do you need? I have flourished because of your numerous gifts to me. Now how can I return the favor? How can I help you restore yourself dear Earth? Tell me how I can be of service to you? Make room for you? Help you to feel at home again on our crazy, brilliant, one of a kind planet?
In the midst of my grief I remembered this letter from the great elder Clarissa Pinkola Estes, maybe it will bring you some comfort too. Love, Sarah
My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.
I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.
There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
By Clarissa Pinkola Estes
American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.