For Heidi Hutner who inspired this scrutiny.

Scientists in Alaska are investigating whether local seals are being sickened by radiation from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska’s Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the animals’ fur coats.

This is the second day of 2012.

The way I live my life is causing great pain and injury to many beings.

I am hoping that the trajectory of our lives will change on 12/20/2012. This will only happen if we approach it deliberately.

Here is a first step. It is so simple and ordinary an act; it is a leap.

I have to do what I have been asking everyone to do:

I have to disentangle from whatever I recognize causes harm and injury to the earth. Why would I allow myself to continue to live in ways that agonize the beings of this world?

The seals are in great anguish. There are no painkillers for them. Little ones are in agony. Some have died. Who was with them? Who comforted the mothers?

The cause may be radiation from Fukushima. I have never advocated for nuclear energy or weapons. But the life I live and the privileges I accept, are congruent with nuclear energy. I have to begin to turn away from the life style that harms others so extremely.

Seals have lives. We have life styles. The discrepancy is intolerable.

I have to disentangle from the minds that can tolerate others suffering such pain or suffering for the sake of economic or military gain or …. I have to recognize and accept that they are mad. It is no longer important to know why they are mad. It is essential to know they are crazed and to step away from the circle of their constructions.

Every day another technological, economic, political, social event, activity or invention violently diminishes or harms life. Our lives disappear and what is substituted is a manufactured reality, increasingly the domain of the criminally insane.

Spirit disappears. It cannot exist in the unnatural realm. To do so, perhaps, would be to accept our life styles.

Conventional wisdom says that I have to acquiesce to the contemporary world, to how things are. It says, I have to submit in order to be effective, to create change, in order to survive. This is what you have to do to survive, it says, kindly.

This is not true. It is only true so long as we agree to live this way.

Spirit was the source of different lives. Spirit shows us other ways. Living each day and moment in a dialogue with spirit, responding as spirit would have us respond on behalf of Creation, is a Way.

We once were one with spirit. Each of us lived within the sacred conversation. We had the means and the understanding. That relationship was once intimate and continuous. No one was denied it. No one was outside it. We breathed it and it rained upon us. It was a great light. It was the comfort of being immersed in starry darkness.

A great distortion came into our midst and separated the human from spirit.

The moments of vision that we sometimes experience and call extraordinary reality, and that are so brilliant that a single instance can sustain us for a lifetime, are merely sightings through pinholes to the radiant world we once inhabited.

It was once this way. Then listening was forbidden. Then it was mocked. Then it was overridden.

Spirit speaks to us when we open to it. The way to disentangle from what causes such great harm and pain is to reconnect.

It is so simple.

A true and ordinary life is entirely connected with spirit that benevolently considers and praises all beings.

Nothing else is required.

Be with me as words enter the world through the invisible conduit that has always served creation and is sufficient.

Image: Occupy Wall Street or Occupy Los Angeles or Occupy Everywhere. There is no microphone. Someone, however, has a megaphone. A simple device. She, or he, says a short sentence. The crowd repeats it and amplifies it a thousand fold. Not only does everyone know what is being said, but everyone passes the words through their bodies. In this way, every word is understood deeply, is taken in, and what is being spoken is vital for everyone.

Spirit speaks. Spirit speaks when we open to it.

In this moment, something is being spoken that I did not expect. Spirit is speaking and I am passing it through my body as I write the words on the page. I am speaking them aloud as I type. Words doubly etched. An antidote for alienation.

Stay with me. If you like, repeat what matters to you. We are in a practice, an exercise that undermines possessions. The words are entering. They are entering in their own time.

I listen. More importantly I take the words into me. I want to understand and offer myself to be altered.

Of course, I have to trust these are spirit’s words, not my own or anyone else’s. Certainly, I can’t be sure., but they are surprising me. What is being communicated is simple and is startling.

I am coming to a standstill as if yielding to a wordless understanding that is beyond me. There is nothing I can do to invite it closer. We will see whether or not this comes to a conclusion. We will see whether the entire understanding will emerge roundly.

Spirit speaks. Because we have opened to it.

This is so simple, I cannot pretend I am inventing it.

I am afraid that this is so simple, and so familiar, that I will not be able to meet it. That I will not turn the 180 degrees that is required to meet it at this very moment.

I am afraid that I will ignore it. I am afraid I will say it is obvious and banal.

The challenge is to recognize this simple and yet enormous truth. I am afraid I will not understand that this is important enough to turn my entire life around. To turn my life around entirely, here and now.

Is it possible that the full realization of my life depends, now, on the simple gesture of turning my back so I face a life that does no harm.

Living with spirit is something we have known. It was of us but we separated from it. It became an idea and it was no longer a Way. We stopped living accordingly. Ideas that we do not live, do not matter. These words are insisting on being a Way again.

I was on the way to writing something else. But these words began coming and insisting themselves. This may be a reliable sign.

I think these words emerge from kindness. I do not think they will do harm. I see that it may serve to let these words pass through me and become the Way I will live my life. You can do likewise, if it serves you

To know serves us only when knowing is alive, when we live accordingly.

If something strikes you, let the words will pass through you also as they are passing through me.

These teachings come to us so quietly from ancient and indigenous wisdom traditions

Kabbalah says that Spirit descends into the world. A great light or rain or wind arrives from elsewhere.

Kabbalah says that we also rise up to meet the holy.

The way to disentangle from what causes pain is to reconnect with spirit. Spirit comes when we open to it and live within it as if it is the air.

Spirit exists and is entirely benevolent.

Beauty and Heart are one and interchangeable in the Presence.

The true and ordinary life requires us to be aligned, at each moment, with spirit, with what does no harm.

Nothing else is required.

I insist that I will find ways to sustain and be sustained as I return to the real world that was never constructed of others’ pain.

I can do this. We can do this. A new step each day away from what causes such pain. Step by step, we can do this.

This is what the Dine call the Beauty way.


  1. Riva Danzig January 4, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Lech Lecha. The Call to go forth. Nothing less. Thank you, again Deena for saying what must be said. We are opening.

  2. Andrea Mathieson January 4, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Thank you, once again, Deena, for the depth of your wisdom, spoken from your heart through the beauty of your words. I am always profoundly moved by what you share, resonating with the same passion to be as deeply aligned with nature as possible in this time of insanity and rising beauty, a ‘terrible’ and perfect storm of new possibility if we can truly listen, as you say. Thank you, thank you…

  3. Ramona Gault January 4, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I am opening my heart to your words, Deena. Opening my heart to the seals’ suffering. What do we do? Find ways to disengage from “the machine”? Live with less stuff, less electricity? How do we then survive physically? How to get around without our cars? I don’t know the answers, but I do believe that if we come together to talk about the way forward, we will figure it out collectively. Blessed be.

  4. Cheryl January 4, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Beautifully written beautifully spoken, I can see you speaking it as you type!
    I feel this is in my bones and know the truth behind it (step by step).
    The seals are one of many Being suffering in the Ocean but they are the ones that can move from water to land they are telling us how truly bad it is, both their worlds are in danger.
    Some Natives of Alaska depend upon the seals for survival, as my Ancestor relied on them for food, lighting using the oil and the fur to keep them warm and dry… That is their way for they are living in the old ways.

    What we put into the Ocean becomes us, what we put into the Earth becomes us.

  5. Jonny January 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    As is so often the case, your words read as the Truth. Thank you for them and your eldership. Perhaps sadly, we have come to a place in our evolution where the term “conventional wisdom” has become an oxymoron.

  6. Louis Civitano January 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    As I read your words I could feel the Flow of Spirit through my mind and Body… I am scared.. I think of the destruction that is happening at this very second, and I Wonder.. Why does no one speak the Words.. The Meltdown of the Nuclear Power Plant in Japan is a Horrific Event… It precedes the Horror that we once unleashed there and may be in Direct connection to what is happening throughout our World.. We dropped Atomic Bombs in those vary Lands.. We have killed and Destroyed throughout History.. We must take Action to Heal our Mother Earth and All Her Creatures… We need Gods intervention and Help at this Time and Place…

  7. mayah January 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Thank you, Deena for your wisdom. Spirit indeed flows through your Being and your words. As others have commented, I too wonder what is to be done. Do we give up all of our technologies, and how do we live if we do that? Even as we communicate via computer, I am aware of how this machine is manufactured, what toxic waste is produced and how the earth is poisoned by it. Every time we get in our cars and drive, purchase anything with styrofoam or plastic or is petroleum-based, buy food that is GMO’d or non-organic or processed, use our electricity or artificial heat, or in other ways too innummerable to list as we just live our daily lives, we are contributing to the poisoning of the planet. We’ve forgotten how to be connected to Great Mother in the most fundamental ways. The grief is terrible, the heart hurts. What is to be done?

  8. Deena Metzger January 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I know this is the dilemma, but I think it is a distraction. I just try to stand before the seal and then determine what to do. I think the issue is more complicated than using the computer or not – but it may be related to whether we buy a new one – or how causally we go along with the new technology. B but even so, maybe not. For me, it calls me to stand before the seal, feel its suffering that I cannot ease, when I make any major decision. Then standing there, i try to listen to spirit. Maybe we are asked to make huge changes not small ones. The huge ones from which the small ones will flow. I am asking myself to stand before the seal. Then ….

  9. Aida Maria January 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I stand before the seal and see the end of forever. I see the end of a sepate reality. I feel my body contracting. I feel my heart yielding…

  10. mayah January 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Maybe my point wasn’t very clear. I don’t think it’s a distraction, I think it’s the crux of the problem: how we as Americans in particular go about our individual daily lives directly or indirectly impacts the planet in large and small ways. The computer was just an example. For instance, if my computer or any other electronic gadget or product of any kind is manufactured in Japan, and Japan uses electricity generated by nuclear power plants to make its products, and we buy those products, and the Japanese nuclear power plants melt down and poison the oceans, then we are complicit in the fact that the seals are ill, even if indirectly.

    All I’m saying is there is either a direct or indirect affect on the poisoning of the planet, or, more positively, on the healing of the planet, based on EVERY SINGLE ACTION we take in our lives, whether big or small. I don’t think most people think about this as they go about their daily lives.

    We can no longer pretend that there are no consequences between our own individual actions and the natural world in which we live. We can no longer pretend that our individual spiritual connectedness has nothing to do with our individual actions. If we are striving to be human beings who claim to hear the voice of Spirit, we have to live accordingly and we must be achingly aware of how every action we take, whether big or small, affects every other Living BEing around us.

  11. Leah Shelleda January 26, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Thank you Deena. Responsibility and complicity. Not “They cut down all of the Big Trees in Yucatan – but I cut down the Big Trees in Yucatan. There can be no they – no bad guys and good guys – no dichotomizing.
    I must and did stand before the last of the Ceiba in southern Yucatan and cry for the Ceiba’s intolerable aloneness – the loss of the rain forest collective. I send you love, Deena.

  12. Deena Metzger February 3, 2012 at 12:04 am

    How beautiful. You and the tree. And when we are the last, they will stand with us and mourn too. i do think your alliance makes a difference. Somehow. Love to you, deena

  13. Drew Michelle February 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Hello Deena ~
    In reading, I’m reminded of something you brought to light in your book “Entering the Ghost River”. You said that the healer and those in need of healing are interchangeable, that they may trade places in an instant. We meet the moment, with what ever ways bring us most alive to ourselves – thus, to this planet – and we hold the space.
    I’ve been reading you for a couple of years now, and I am so incredibly grateful to you for the reflection and the support that you’ve been able to offer me through the pages. As I read you here in this blog, Deena, I am compelled to offering, to hold space, to step into healing. To help in holding a sacred container for you as you ask those questions and engage in the process of untangling. Sometimes the questions are thick and heavy. Yet, I too believe that the medicine is quite simple. How simple and profound that yes, we fear we might not be able to meet it. I know a place just like that.
    Holding the space, Deena. For the process. The questions. The suffering. For all that, even and mostly in these times, is worthy of celebrating. With a deep breath. Before the seal. The silence. And then listening. ~

  14. Deena Metzger March 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Thank you for your response. This is how the world and so the earth heals. Sometimes it seems the animals and other beings are holding space for us as we, also, try to heal.

  15. Deena Metzger March 27, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Dear Drew Michele:

    i came across your comment in my email again today and am deeply moved by it. The theme of the on-going exchange between the healer in us who is called to make the offering and the one in us who needs healing or support, that dance, was vibrant in our Daré on Sunday. This is more than the ‘wounded healer.’ Some came to Daré for the first time and were carrying deep afflictions, of a spiritual nature or of a physical nature, and then the interplay between these was also illuminated. But, before or after, they were in the circle to receive for themselves and the world, they were able to fully give to the others from a whole self. So, the woman, for example, who had pre-cancer cells throughout her breast, but had received healing for it after the diagnosis and thought it might, in fact, have been converted, was encouraged, also, to hold the possibility of a miracle, not for herself alone, but for all of us. Can we learn how to live so that we can help to restore or transform a cancer cell which we might look at as the first victim of environmental devastation and so deserve (?) healing rather than a death penalty, if we can manage it? Before and after entering into such a calling, the woman also stepped forth to hold and offer others with other but equally challenging injuries to body, heart and / or soul. She was whole when she was healing – of course. As you are whole when you offer me such a gift as you have in this note from last month. And I am whole also when I call for this camaraderie because I fear I can’t …. and who can hold such sorrow (and possibility) alone? Nor should one.
    This morning, when I stepped outside to rehang the bird feeder I had taken in last night, I saw two tiny leaves on the Siberian elm that was planted here in southern California before I moved to the house. It is far too hot for this tree which has been dying back for years. We water her but the old woman tree is declining even as she has sent new shoots up from her roots a small distance away. I wondered if these tiny leaves might be the only ones this year when I put my hands on her and felt the strong life force moving up to the branches. At that moment, an unseen woodpecker, whose has received nourishment from this tree, drilling for insects spring after spring, leaving a pattern of holes that each year increasingly resembles an Aboriginal painting of the energy patterns of existence. The drill of the woodpecker as strong as the vibration of a jack hammer. And so the vertical energy rising in the tree coinciding with the code of the woodpecker, was a mystery that entered into me and, hopefully, met the heartbeat I could send back. We hold and heal each other.
    I don’t know why I came upon your comment this morning and went to the blog immediately, afraid I had failed to see it earlier and hadn’t responded. So, as I had, but this response also evoked, I wonder if there is also a reason that you may understand that calls us into dialogue today.

  16. Drew Michelle May 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Time surely moves in spirals, in circles!
    We are now, seemingly, the 16th of May, 2012,
    Hello Deena ~

    I broke something today.
    It shattered.
    I cracked open a space and sang myself straight through it. I came out through the other side, still breathing. It was a risk. Though, I found something of myself in that journey – a journey that I have been so hesitant and afraid of taking. Lightness and new life came and, I was held.

    I too, cannot now name why, it is that I have decided to check your blog today. To see if my comment had gone through, to see if I have been received that way. I remember March, as I remember writing to you, as I remember breathing that message off, as I remember my heart stopping and starting after hitting the send button. As I remember the prayer. As I remember the warmth.
    We are whole when we offer such gifts as your message to me almost two months ago, wholly reaches me now, in this present moment. Just after the breaking.
    And so the healing/camaraderie comes.

    Your story of Woodpecker and the Old Woman Tree…
    I think there are so many ways to meet each other, yes, so many ways to hold and heal each other.
    Derrick Jensen wrote the following and it speaks to me about that re-memebering:

    “There are times the lies get to me, times I weary of battering myself against the obstacles of denial, hatred, fear-induced stupidity, and greed, times I want to curl up and fall into the problem, let it sweep me away as it so obviously sweeps away so many others. I remember a spring day a few years ago, a spring day much like this one, only a little more sun, and warmer. I sat on this same couch and looked out this same window at the same ponderosa pine.
    I was frightened, and lonely. Frightened of a future that looks dark, and darker with each passing species, and lonely because for every person actively trying to shut down the timber industry, stop abuse, or otherwise bring about a sustainable and sane way of living, there are thousands who are helping along this not-so-slow train to oblivion. I began to cry.
    The tears stopped soon enough. I realized we are not so outnumbered. We are not outnumbered at all. I looked closely, and saw one blade of wild grass, and another. I saw the sun reflecting bright off the needles of pine trees, and I heard the hum of flies. I saw ants walking single file through the dust, and a spider crawling toward the corner of the ceiling. I knew in that moment, as I’ve known ever since, that it is no longer possible to be lonely, that every creature on earth is pulling in the direction of life–every grasshopper, every struggling salmon, every unhatched chick, every cell of every blue whale–and it is only our own fear that sets us apart.”

    Perhaps this speaks to something of our writing, something of these stories. Something of the mystery, something of what happens in Daré. Of the old woman tree, of the woodpecker, of the rains that fell this afternoon, of the cat that circles and purrs around my feet as I write you now. I know that I cannot let the illusion of isolation dis-empower me. And I thank you for connecting, for this gift, which affirms to me that I am in a deep alliance with people and creatures of this world.
    In these times, in all times, let us lean into that mystery that weaves us, and send our heartbeat through it.
    We are here. We are all here.
    In every breath of wind.
    In every bone of our bodies.
    Thank you Deena and in grateful camaraderie. ~

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