Small Pockets of Good Work

“The creativity of this living world is continuing to unfold. And that unfolding is sacred. Be prepared to wonder at this unfurling. Be prepared also for this: that every extinction, every suffering, every destruction, is a diminishment of creativity, and so it is a profanity. Be prepared for anger and for grief. The world is a mystery of infinite and intrinsic value. Be prepared to love it in ways beyond our own understanding. This wondering love is what brings us to the work ahead of us and sustains us in the struggle.

Why is it wrong to wreck the world? Because the world is a wonder, beautiful and creative, unique and irreplaceable. And what is wonderful ought to be honored and protected. The failure to honor and protect it is a failure of reverence” - Kathleen Dean Moore

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Sitting in a tea house across from a dear friend, I felt the trembling in my lips and the weight in my heart. I held out my two hands, palm side up and gestured the way I’ve been feeling— a scale out of balance, the heaviness of life on my right hand weighing in greater than the joy in my left. Unpracticed in ways to celebrate my life while darkness consumes so many in the world, I want to offer light yet I sense my own internal dimming.

The world is made of contrast. I know this. Beauty and ruin are interwoven. But in the constant feed of what’s not working, the world seems to be unraveling one crisis at a time. Where are the stories of thriving and resilience? How can we honor the calls for our heart’s attention AND hold space for the beautiful, the wondrous, the irreplaceable?

In the poem, “Leavings”, Deena Metzger offers this perspective:

Give me everything mangled and bruised, 
And I will make a light of it to make you weep, 
And we will have rain, 
And begin again.

While I can’t ignore what is mangled and bruised, I don’t want to get lost in rage and grief or be consumed by eco anxiety. I want to channel that anger and sorrow into offerings that invite deeper connection and mindful attention. I want my work to serve as a light orienting us towards greater consciousness, care and renewal.

I find encouragement in these words by Kathleen Moore:

There is hope in this: An attention that notices and celebrates thriving where it occurs; a conscience that refuses to destroy it.

We can create small pockets of flourishing, and we can make ourselves into overhanging rock ledges to protect life, so that the full measure of possibility can spread and reseed the world. It doesn’t matter what it is; if it’s generous to life, imagine it into existence. Create a bicycle cooperative, a seed-sharing community, a wildlife sanctuary on the hill below the church. Raise butterflies with children. Sing duets to the dying. Tear out the irrigation system and plant native grass. Imagine water pumps. Imagine a community garden in the Kmart parking lot. Study ancient corn. Teach someone to sew. Learn to cook with the full power of the sun at noon.

From these sheltered pockets of moral imagining, and from the protected pockets of flourishing, new ways of living will spread across the land, across the salt plains and beetle-killed forests. Here is how life will start anew. Not from the edges over centuries of invasion; rather from small pockets of good work, shaped by an understanding that all life is interdependent, and driven by the one gift humans have that belongs to no other: practical imagination – the ability to imagine that things can be different from what they are now.” 

I feel called to honor and celebrate thriving where it occurs, to be a witness and refuge for all that is beautiful, wondrous and irreplaceable. I want my offerings to invite contemplation and serve as a reminder that how we pay attention matters— our daily actions matter. I want my small pockets of good work to invite a conscious orientation towards caring and protecting, restoring and healing, and creating more pockets of flourishing. I want to learn to balance my joy and grief as I walk through this sacred, heart- wrenching, mired and beauty-filled world.