RUIN AND BEAUTY

DEENA METZGER'S BLOG

WHY AM I WRITING A BLOG?

I HAVE BEEN WRITING A LETTER TO YOU IN MY MIND, EVERY DAY. I began it on the computer, last month. But it wasn’t really a letter, and it wasn’t really a letter to you. It was an informal essay passing as a letter. But that is not my intent. I am hoping to write a real letter to you. Even though I don’t know you. Or I don’t know that I know you as I won’t know when you come to the site which will be for us the same as if you, at another time, picked up a sealed envelope and opened it, though it was not addressed, and reading it, realized it was intended for you.

Spirit works that way. It speaks to us through coincidences and strange, encounters, occurrences we could not have designed, possibilities far beyond us. A book falls off the shelf into our hands and our lives change. This happened to me. It took me to Latin America. My life took a 180 degree turn. Maybe something similar happened to you. In our circles, so many events happen so many connections that can’t be explained, so many inexplicable signs, leads and blessings, we continually ask:  “What is the true nature of the universe in which such things happen?”  Or, in another mood, we say, “You know, you can’t make this shit up.”

So you come across this letter and or the ones that will follow and or … who knows .. maybe it will save our lives.

Spirit says that there are hidden passageways that we can discover to take us toward the restoration of the earth and our real lives.

I spent the summer praying for such possibilities. I went into silence on the hill behind my house. I made a journey to Canyon de Chelly. I spent days in prayer asking for signs. I had other things planned for the summer, but this is what I did. I was given signs.

There are hidden passageways to restoring creation. We have to find them for ourselves and we cannot enter them without changing entirely so that we are aligned with the possibilities of a future and not the trajectory of the past and present.

I STARTED WRITING THIS BECAUSE I AM ANGUISHED ABOUT THE STATE OF THE WORLD AND SO ARE YOU. I cannot imagine coming to the end of my life and realizing that I didn’t do everything I could have done, that I was distracted or preoccupied and I didn’t become everything I could have become in order to help save the natural world, the environment, the earth, all life, Creation. You reading this feel the same way; so let us begin and proceed undaunted on behalf of Beauty.

Five in the afternoon, we see an owl in the old oak in the meadow. An hour ago, a deer and two giant bunnies grazing on the hill. Yesterday at the ocean, we were greeted by dolphins, and for a moment I saw the long body of a sea lion in the translucent, turquoise waters just by the shore. Pelicans in formation. Gulls; God’s hungry angels, I call them. And then, remarkably, entirely out of season, there in the distance, a whale spouting. But overhead, army helicopters. Just as they grind overhead at the moment of writing these words. The animals want to live and so we have to stop the wars we are engaged in everywhere against all things and all beings.

You are not asked to sacrifice your life or anyone else’s for Creation. Actually, you are asked if you will live your life fully on behalf of Creation. You are being asked if you will live fully on behalf of all our relations. What does that Lakota phrase, mitakye oyasin really mean? As you enter into its meanings, everything will change and become filled with light.

In a prior version of this blog, I listed many of the horrors. I will again because we have to face the whole picture together especially as life is killed off one being at a time. We are so divided trying to save this and then that, that we cannot save the whole. The changes we are called to are systemic.

I am reading One Square Inch of Silence by Gordon Hempton. At the beginning, we see that he couldn’t even save one inch. I don’t know what happens at the end, but I know that I have never been anyplace where there is complete silence, as he says, for fifteen minutes.

EVERY TIME I CONSULT AN AUGURY, THE DIVINATION SAYS I MUST DISENTANGLE FROM THIS CONTEMPORARY LIFE: LEAVE WESTERN CULTURE; IT IS MAD, VIOLENT, DERANGED AND DEBASED.

The deer looked me in the eye and I opened my heart to it. I must leave these ways if not on my own behalf, at least so that it can live. It can’t live alone on this planet, as we think we can; it needs everyone, the bunnies, coyotes, wolves, deer ticks, squirrels, bees,  grass, rain, sun, light and dark, birdsong and stillness. It needs the whole life for its whole life. It knows this so it is a holy creature.

I began this letter on August 8th, which is directly between Hiroshima Day on August 6th and Nagasaki Day on August 10th. On August 6th, we dropped an atom bomb and on August 10th we dropped another. That is, we, the citizens of the United States and our ancestors. In order to do this work of Restoration, we have to know we did this.

Today is September 11th. The day, in 1972, of the horrific golpe (coup) that, with covert US support, overthrew the first democratically elected socialist government in Chile headed by Salvador Allende and threw Latin America into a turmoil of torture and violence. Friends of mine were tortured. Imagine torture! We torture. We are torturing. At this moment. Please don’t look away.

On this day in 2001, a plane flew into the twin towers in NYC. They say there were two other planes but what happened to them, we don’t really know. We don’t really fully know what happened on September 11th 2001, how or why. I was in Africa at the time and wrote the following in Entering the Ghost River: Meditations on the Theory and Practice of Healing, which was published on September 11, 2002: “Two stories intersected in that moment: a story streaming toward destruction and a story streaming toward healing.”

I AM WRITING THIS BLOG SO THAT YOU WILL MEET ME IN A STORY STREAMING TOWARD HEALING. Spirit says it is possible. I do not write this to give you false hope or to discount your fears. Your fears are appropriate. The situation is dire. All of creation is threatened at this moment.

Still, Spirit says, there are hidden passageways to restore creation.  But … entering them asks everything of me and of you.

***

I AM WRITING TO YOU BECAUSE I HAVE THE STRANGE BELIEF THAT SOMETHING UNEXPECTED, AND EVEN HOPEFUL, MIGHT OCCUR IF WE LOOKED AT THE WHOLE, the entirety of what we are facing and heartstormed together. I am writing because I can’t look at the whole of it alone. I am writing this letter and those that will follow because Spirit says there are ways, hidden passageways, to save Creation.

Here is a short list of some of the unbearable events of the last few months. One leads to another, relentlessly.  Let’s locate ourselves so we can reverse the order.  Iraq. Afghanistan. Thousands and thousands of civilian deaths. Agony.  Depleted uranium in our weapons leaving radioactive fields. Unprecedented suffering and horror, madness, violence, suicide experienced by our soldiers and veterans, men and women, largely unacknowledged, untreated, untreatable at the moment – the shorthand is PTSD. Leukemia, cancers, other terrible diseases in the areas around uranium mines, Native American reservations in particular.  Water, earth, air poisoned. The Gulf hemorrhage, its hidden oil plumes under the sea, the incalculable effects also of the dispersants, the death and suffering of the fish,birds, animals, humans  and more ‘spills’ than we know, everywhere. Incalculable effects on all life. Global extinctions proceeding at lightning speed. Hate bubbling up in Arizona and other states against the poor, the desperate, the non-white. Economic turmoil.  Poverty. Walls going up at the Mexican border, at Gaza. We are imprisoning ourselves everywhere. Global loss of control over our food – genetic modification, cloned animals. Increasing numbers of autistic children born. Increasing numbers of people suffering mental illness, depression, despair. Radiation and chemotherapy have become normalized procedures as if everyone living should look forward to such treatment. Plagues of cancers, auto-immune diseases, other horrors. Wolves and elephants hunted and culled from airplanes. Six northern white rhinos remaining. How many tigers? Women raped, mutilated, brutalized, enslaved in the Congo and everywhere. Human trafficking. Child soldiers. Domestic violence and physical abuse.  Parents, priests, ministers, religious leaders, medical people, educators committing sexual abuse of children. No safety. Global warming, flooding, drought, famine, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, glaciers melting, ice shelves falling into the sea, fires, the radioactive forests surrounding Chernobyl burning.

THE EARTHSEA MOTHER SAID:  “DON’T JUST BEAR WITNESS.  BE WITH ME.”

In the face of all of this and more, Spirit says, There are hidden passageways to end the horror and restore creation.  (The owl living in the meadow is calling out.)

When people suffer life-threatening illnesses and want to heal and live, they often recognize they must change their lives entirely. They make the extreme offerings. Sometimes they live long lives. At the least their lives are extended. Meeting death, if that is the ultimate fate at that moment, they can meet it at peace with themselves and the world. They know they have made an offering to the community and the future in their living and in their dying.

A man in my kinship-net who was gravely ill, got up from a coma and completely changed his life, did what he wished he had had the courage to do forty years earlier. Mysterious. Then he followed equally mysterious and challenging instructions that came in dreams. This connected him with Spirit in ways he had not imagined. This gave him time and his soul. It gave everyone around him new life and the courage to live it. The vital two months he received changed everything for everyone. It was a miracle.

The changes we are called to are radical and ethical beyond anything we have ever imagined.  We have been thinking of what to do for a long time, and we can’t stop thinking, but our thinking is paltry before this crises. We have to find the visionary ways to the visionary ways. And the courage to live them without compromise.

Engage in this thought experiment with me: Imagine that you have been born at this time so that your life will make a significant difference on behalf of the future of all life. What are you called to be, do given the alarming state of every aspect of our lives and your heartbroken desire and intention to be a remedy and a healing for this time?

From the beginning, I mean from the time I was three, I assumed I was here for a purpose on behalf of the world and each day of my life has deepened my belief and commitment. I am writing to you because you feel the same and always have, whether or not you are willing to admit it to your family and friends, or the public, to me or … to yourself.

I mean, why would you have been born in such a time if not to – if I put it crudely – be part of those who are going to … fix it, heal it, rejuvenate, revive, restore all life? Would anyone sign up for this nightmare if they didn’t have such a purpose in mind and a sense that they could accomplish something whether or not they got the credit a lot of people want more than the change?

I was born in 1936, the year of the Spanish Civil War and the Hitler-Stalin Pact. A few years later, when my father learned about the death camps, the gas chambers, the Holocaust, he had a breakdown. What mind could incorporate the realities of 1939 to 1945?  After 1945, the Holocaust was the constant subject in our household. 65 years later, the Holocaust and so many other holocausts and genocides, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain in the air like radioactive poisoning. As a species we no longer exercise restraint on the horror we are willing to inflict on each other, on animals, on trees, on beauty, on the earth.

But still …. Here we are. In as much as the trajectory that we are on, which is leading to the death of nature and the extreme violation of heart and beauty, is unacceptable, what are you, I, we going to become and, how will we live accordingly?

THERE ARE SECRET PASSAGEWAYS TO ANOTHER VITAL LIFE FOR THIS PLANET.  You have to find yours and burrow through. You have a unique way waiting for you that belongs to you. It is the exact fulfillment of your life, experience, understanding, suffering and heart. As I have mine. Each of ours is distinct, but aligned and harmonious with each other’s. Restoring Creation is what we will do together.

My husband, Michael Ortiz Hill and I were at one of the overlooks at Canyon de Chelly on August 27 2010, praying for the earth, asking for guidance, and a sign. At sunset, we looked across the canyon at some small clouds in the distance. We were beneath a rainbow but there was no reason for a rainbow. A rainbow is a covenant. A covenant has two parties. It was a sign from Spirit. Let us meet it.

***

This is the beginning of this blog. I don’t know how it will continue. Other letters.  Poems. Comments. Notes and dreams.  Some of you will write letters back. I will post some or excerpts. Answer others. Idiosyncratic,irregular co-respondence. This beginning.

Thank you. Bless you. May your dreams show us the ways.

Deena

13 responses to “WHY AM I WRITING A BLOG?

  1. Riva September 12, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Oh my, Deena! Thank you for the letter. I read it as I believe you intended … personally, addressed to me, reaching me exactly where I am standing today, as I explore the newly discovered passageways that are taking me toward the restoration of the earth and my real life. As much as it breaks my heart, nearly hourly, to not turn away from the consequences of the prevailing culture’s devotion to the myth of separation, it seems to be my path. Bearing Witness, Being the Change, Disentangling from this Contemporary Life (even as I send gratitude for the technology that allows me to have read your post this morning on my blackberry while still in bed, and to respond to it). Bless you, my Teacher. Mitakuye Oyasin! Tikkun Olam

  2. Maxine Cook September 12, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Deena,
    Thank you for your earnest and heartfelt words; they touched me deeply. I have lived my life deeply attached to the Earth and her creatures, humans included. I think I have much to say but I need some time to process the depths of this introduction.

    I do know that ‘it’ is never all bad. Please return to commune with Earth Spirit and, this time, see mostly good. It provides the heart a more hopeful kindness and offers balance, which is what all on Earth require, and which Earth is trying to achieve.
    Thank you again,
    Maxine Cook

  3. johan September 12, 2010 at 10:36 am

    I think I am leading my life trying not to think too much about the troubling things you write about. Feeling powerless. Protecting myself from a sense of doom. Sometimes fear intrudes this fabricated peace of mind when I contemplate the fact that my children will be fully around when certain problems will get really acute for them and they wil have to face some real acute fears.
    I don’t feel clever enough to know the solutions. I feel too alone and not connected with lots and lots of other people who organize themselves around a commitment to save the earth for ourselves and our children and grandchildren and so on. I am so pessimistic about any possible solutions to the selfishness, shortsightedness, the potential for violence, for hypocrisy and so on of human beings.

  4. Laurel Bay September 13, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Dear Deena,

    Thank you for the work you do on behalf of the earthsea mother and all of her creatures. Namaste.

    I resonate deeply with what spirit has told you about the hidden passage ways. I know from my time here on the plains of Canada that there are many hidden portals, that once found and entered, lead to a deep connection to the land, her people and her history. I think of these portals like tiny little prairie flowers. If you go out onto the prairie at the right time and look carefully and with reverence you will see them. And if you kneel or sit or lay down and let yourself become their size, and ask with humility for entrance, they will let you.

    This is where I go for answers. These little flowers are my portals to the hidden passageways …

  5. Vivienne Whale Grace September 14, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Dear Deena,
    i truly appreciate you sharing your heartfelt response to the challenge facing us and putting out the Call to others.
    Not so many years ago I felt the need to completely withdraw my energies as I felt the world to be truly hostile. Events in my own life had created loss and tragedy. I projected that out onto the world at large and focused on all that was broken or lost or destroyed or violent. It was a very painful time. Walking in Mother Earth’s mud brought me back and spirit began to flood in and inform like it never had before. I had to feel truly empty and hopeless to feel my own resurrection. Now I have such great hope for this time. I feel we have waited centuries to be here right now in this time to assist in Midwifing in a new Golden Age. We just have to choose to wake up and participate in it’s creation and listen to the voice of Spirit that shows us where those hidden portals reside both within and without.

  6. Rabbi Michael Lerner September 14, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Dear Deena,

    Here’s some good news. We at Tikkun magazine have created an interfaith (including spiritual but not religious atheists and agnostics) Network of Spiritual Progressives–and we are actually doing some very concrete work that may contribute, along with all the other things you mention, to the resurgence of the matriarchal/female energy so badly needed on the planet.

    Among the things we are doing:

    1. a campaign for a Global Marshall Plan to once and for all eliminate global poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, inadequate health care and to repair the global environment. The plan was introduced into Congress this year by Congressman Keith Ellison as House Res. 1016.

    2. a campaign for ESRA–the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which among other things overturns the Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United Decision and instead forbids private money in elections, mandates public funding of elections and equal (and free) time for the candidates, hence togther eliminating the need of candidates to raise money by pleasing the rich and the corporate elite; plus it sets a requirement that all large corporations must get a new corporate charter once every five years which will only be granted to those who can prove a satisfactory history of Environmental and Social Responsibility–to a jury of ordinary citizens!

    Deena, if you don’t know about this, please download both of these proposals at http://www.spiritualprogressives.org, and if they cheer you as much as I hope they will, please do a blog about them, because both are aimed at manifesting love concretely, and your blog readers are certainly among the leading love advocates in our society!

    Love and blessings for a wonderful and sweet New Year.
    Michael

    Rabbi Michael Lerner
    Editor, Tikkun Magazine

  7. rob purday September 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Deena – all blessings be with you

    I am often heartened and inspired to find courage through the words of Alice Walker :
    “we are the ones we have been waiting for”

    and know in my heart that when we stand strong at the center of our circle, our Circle, that the distractions of Fear cannot succeed in dislodging us from our path, our paths…..

    and yet, we are, as you so passionately remind us, here to stand with open eyes and with courage (the empowerment of the heart) acknowledge the truth to which we bear witness, no matter what, no matter how far, how near

    and so, it is with gratitude that I read, no, feel, the depths of your plea for consciousness and compassion and communication

    as the good Rabbi shows there are in us all magnets for the good, and we attract each other in this – the call will be, I am sure, renewed many times, and this is a good thing – may this be the beginning of a powerful calling for us all together – thank-you for renewing our strength

    in peace, Rob

  8. Deena Metzger September 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Dear Riva: Thank you for receiving this letter to you. There are really these hidden passageways and Restoration is possible. I have received the hexagram, Disentangling, so many times on my journey. At Canyon de Chelly, I received, Skinning: Cut to the bone; Disconnect from the dominant forms that do not serve. To this I add, disconnect from the forms that are doing so much harm. The instructions are ruthless and full of possibility. I am yielding to them. Today is day 2 of a 101 practice of inscribing the new way in my heart, soul and life. Yes, this was a letter to you. Thank you, again, for receiving it, and for answering…. Love, Deena

  9. Laurie Markoff September 30, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Dear Deena,
    It is strange that you have been writing this letter to me, as I have been writing a letter to you in my head as well. I have been re-reading “Ghost River” (maybe this is the sixth time and each time it feels like a new book, but perhaps that is because I am different.) and this time it feels like it explains what is happening to me, how I am becoming undone and feel both strongly called to respond to these times and deeply unsure that I know what to do. It is not that I don’t see the signs, it is that I do not know what the signs are pointing me toward. I go and pray for forgiveness for my people at every body of water I encounter. I dreamt that Mandaza was pouring water over a bunch of miniature rose buds between my naked breasts and saying “This is medicine for your people” and so I found a miniature rosebush and we will make a flower essence in that manner. At the SpiritSong retreat, when I was singing, the elephants came and surrounded us, and when I finished singing they spoke to me and said ” If your people will restore the contract, we will do our part.” But how do I make that happen? What am I to do? When I took my daughter to college, early in the morning, as she slept, I hiked up in the woods that the college owns. I saw one or two young people hiking up there, and was thinking of how the woods and the farm there (where my daughter teaches children how food grows) are teaching and tending these young people, and I stopped and made an offering by a tree with roots like the feet of an elephant, thanking the land for tending these young people. Later, a deer stepped onto the trail 20 feet from me and made eye contact. I spoke to her in my mind, introduced myself and she nodded at me. And then I said “You look like a mother. I am a mother too, and I am here to thank all of you for tending my daughter while I am not here. And she nodded again, and her fawn stepped out of hiding and looked me in the eye as well. We stood like that for while, and then someone shouted in the distance and they bounded off. I could not stop crying. In my dream group, in all of my communities, many of us are all having encounters like this. As if the animals are coming to us to make alliances. I am grateful for the signs, I am listening as hard as I can, but I do not know what they are calling me to do, only that it is urgent. I am hoping somehow, Deena, that we will find the answers here. If nothing else, it makes me feel less alone with my questions. So thank you.

  10. Deena Metzger October 1, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    I have just posted, Meeting the Deer Mother: A Letter to Laurie Markoff.

  11. Sharon Simone October 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    This comment I posted on Oct 5, 2010 in response to this first letter I posted in the wrong place. I would like it here in its proper sequence. It has mattered, this letter, these thoughts, Deena.

    Sharon Simone October 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Dear Deena,
    I am responding to the “letter” that has this section in it:
    Still, Spirit says, there are hidden passageways to restore creation. But … entering them asks everything of me and of you. (This line is in Why Am I Writing A Blog?” see below – DM)

    Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/thequeenofmyself/2010/10/ruin-and-beauty.html#preview#ixzz11W21cQsD

    I left a response there but I want to put it here too now because “everything” IS being asked of me/us…and I am trying to respond with integrity:

    October 5, 2010 2:58 PM

    Driving home from Carmel, California near where my son was married in the woods this past weekend, I found myself overcome with the beauty of the landscape–earth and sky thrown open, gorgeous yellow grasses deepening to earth brown with the fading light. I could barely breathe as the sweep of my life across 66 years undulated before me, within me. A profound call, cry, longing to live the beauty and the sorrow sewn into the many years of kinship and landscape I am. If I call out the names of the rivers of my childhood – Rio Grande, Arkansas, Gunnison, might I then know the exact passageway to crawl down to live?

    Rio Grande! Arkansas! Gunnison! Colorado!

  12. Deena Metzger October 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    I taught a writing workshop at Rowe Conference Center two weeks ago. When we gathered for dream group before breakfast, a man began to read a dream he had about the river near his birthplace in North Dakota. He intended to write, ” I am sitting by a river …” but he wrote, ” I am being a river.” Suddenly he understood that he was suffering what the river had suffered since its clarity and purity when he was young and its pollution sixty years later. The rest of his writing that weekend was focused on finding ways to heal what his people had done to the river (and to himself, we assumed.)

    Thank you for the chant Rio Grande, ARkansas, Gunnison. Rio Grande, ARkansas, Gunnison. Rio Grande, ARkansas, Gunnison. Rio Grande, ARkansas, Gunnison.

  13. Kathryn September 10, 2013 at 4:40 am

    Reblogged this on How my heart speaks and commented:
    This is very much worth reading

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