Realities Enter Our Lives: Fukushima and the Future

Every morning when I awaken and see the amber light on the old dying elm and the vigorous eucalyptus, the one that bled crimson sap one season I think, ‘Beauty is still here.’  Relief and gratitude.  Life as I have been living it – shall I call it – life as usual – goes on.

I can meet the day.  I determine to go on living my life as well as I can.  The early morning light is beautiful as it was yesterday.  Today will be hot again, but the nights are cool and clear.  We are meant to sit under the stars. 

Life as usual, what is it?

At this momentarily quiet moment, it is: Pray, eat, write, work, water, feed (the wild), dog, walk, read, family, friends, solitude, sleep. Again and again.

But also at this hour and every hour, deadly radiation – 300 tons of toxic water per day – is leaking from the storage tanks in Fukushima.[1]

“The water from the leaking tank is so heavily contaminated with strontium-90, cesium-137, and other radioactive substances that a person standing less than two feet away would receive, in an hour’s time, a radiation dose equivalent to five times the acceptable exposure for nuclear workers,” Reuters reported.

TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power Company has finally admitted what we, and they, have known from the beginning: they do not have the means or the knowledge to remedy the situation.

An hour later, the light is stark and will remain so all day.

After twenty-seven years, I am divorced.  The reality of this great loss enters my heart.  I did not expect to have to re-imagine and rebuild my life at this age.  One prepares for the death of a life partner, but divorce is an unnatural death blow to the heart.  After divorce, I have to assess what life is, so I can reconstruct a pattern that is a life.  The essentials are there: Pray, eat, write, work, water, feed (the wild), dog, walk, read, family, friends, lots of solitude, sleep.  Now Fukushima is here.  Drone, and dissonance.  It adds another dimension to the question: How does one go on?  How am I to live?

These are not the questions I expected to ask at this time in my life.  But now I must ask them.  The personal and the global coincide.  Fukushima, only one of the myriad horrific consequences of the ways we are living our lives.  How do we go on?  How are we to live?

1985.  A dear friend died.  I was inconsolable.  Driving on the freeway one gray morning, a disembodied voice said, “Forgive those who have left early.  Who could not stay to witness the end.”

I protested that I was also unwilling to stay to witness the end, but I would stay as long as I saw that I might make a difference.  I was not fifty yet.  Too young to know that one doesn’t win when trying to bargain with the spirits; I thought I had made a deal:  I would stay. We would all work to change consciousness and there would be no end to Creation.

I was certain or I was determined: The human could not (would not) overcome the Holy.

Last night, August 24th, I was anguished about Fukushima, climate change and the Rim Fire “swallowing everything in its path.” as it approached Yosemite . My own personal pain and unexpected loneliness, miniscule and irrelevant before the anguish of the earth. Losing a soul mate is not the same as losing a planet, even though it raises similar questions about how to live and what has meaning.

“A raging California wildfire has grown to 200 square miles and is so large and burning with such force that it is creating its own weather patterns, making it hard to predict where it will move,” fire officials said. “As the smoke column builds up it breaks down and collapses inside of itself, sending downdrafts and gusts that can go in any direction,”

She is really angry” a Native American friend says.  “No telling what She will do.”

I went to bed asking for wisdom, which only rarely comes to me in dreams.

I dreamed a friend has decided to commit suicide.  Her husband and I are accompanying her as witnesses.  We are facing her as we sit on the ends of a small couch, a large space between us.  She is speaking to us but she is speaking in absolute silence.  She is standing, restless, as she reveals her decision.  She does not have to explain.  We know.  We understand.   Sometimes my friend suffers what the world is suffering in her body.  We see that she cannot bear the pain.

My friend is living in a neighborhood where violence, always a constant, has suddenly escalated.  She is aware that the escalation in her neighborhood is an analogue of the global escalation.  She is not willing to respond personally without also considering the global dilemma.  So she speaks, without words, of the local incidents, the murders and break-ins, and the parallel events in our country, and around the world.

The communication between us is entirely silent and precise. We could elaborate, but, in the dream, we are committed to short hand:

She is thinking of the violence in her city, the violence in our country, the violence in the world.  Personal violence, national violence, global violence.  Murder, massacre, terrorism, war.

I am thinking of climate change, global warming, nuclear accidents, oil spills, extinction.

She is considering suicide.  We are immersed in ecocide.  We are each holding everything the other one is holding.

She and I have declared our houses as sanctuaries for the community of human and non-human beings.  Now sanctuary is threatened.  Sanctuary , a quality of earth, is threatened everywhere.  In the dream, the reality of the loss enters her heart.

At first, neither her husband nor I interfere.  It is, after all, her life.  We know her anguish.  But then it seems, I do question her decision and she falters.  She cannot stand her ground about suicide.  It seems she decides to live.  Or rather, she decides not to take her own life.  In the dream, I am now responsible to her for the unbearable pain she will have to bear.

She will ask the question:  How shall I live?  She will ask that even if there are no remedies that she knows.  No remedies for her pain.  No remedies for the disasters the world is facing.

I am trying to follow the wisdom and direction of the dream.

On August 23d, NPR played an interview with climate scientist Judith Curry, who in 2005 predicted that hurricanes were going to get more severe due to climate change.  She also did diplomatic work behalf of the IPPC, the United Nations, International Panel on Climate Change.  This spring, she testified  to a house subcommittee that “If all other things remain equal, it’s clear that adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will warm the planet, but all other things may not remain equal.”  She didn’t feel certain about the outcome and so she recommended taking no action.  “I have six nieces and nephews who have recently graduated from college,” she says. “Not easy finding jobs in this economy. Are we going to jeopardize their economic future and they may not even care?”

Leaked material from the soon to be published IPPC 5th Assessment Report declares that scientists hold humans 95% responsible for climate change.  Until we are certain of this, do we indulge business as usual for the imagined economic benefit of our relatives without considering all the other beings, human and non-human on the earth?

Native Americans have an answer to this.  In Lakota, it is mitakye oyasin, all my relations.  Ideas are not abstractions.  Embedded in culture, they, like the force that turns sunflowers always toward the sun, magnetize and focus our energies in particular directions.  These two words, alone reveal the great gap between a culture that lives for a technology that created Fukushima and a culture that lives through a reverent love of the earth.

As it happens, I am writing a novel , A Rain of Night Birds, about an atmospheric scientist.  The novel was ‘given” to me.  I would never have conceived of it, nor could I have developed it, by myself.   I have been writing it for two and a half years, faithful to whatever is given me, listening, listening, listening, deeply involved and yet not knowing.  I have given the summer to it and in turn I have been guided in ways that bring me to my knees.

Because of a series of accidents and complications, I was seated in my car and turned on the radio, just as the interview with Judith Curry aired.  Had this been an ordinary day or hour, I would not have heard her.

These are the last days of the writing retreat.  When the novel came to me, I knew no more about climate science than the average well educated citizen.  Frustrated with trying to write intelligently about  characters whose work and knowledge are central to the story while I do not share their understanding, I set out to query several scientists for a reading list of books I could understand without having the math background necessary for environmental sciences..  Years ago I had managed to learn what was necessary to bring Daniela Stonebrook Blue, an astrophysicist in my novel, The Other Hand, to life.  The research had taken a year or two, but afterwards I could write in the language of the stars.  Maybe I still have a year or two to learn enough of the environmental sciences to satisfy the integrity of my characters.  Within a few hours, and before I wrote to anyone, a reading list appeared with articles I could understand that cover the entire field: “Welcome to Resources in Atmospheric Sciences.”  Welcome, the title says.  Welcome!

I do not generally associate technology and magic but I see that the spirits use any means necessary to communicate with us in ways that we can accept.  They use dreams and they use Google.  The combination is breathtaking.   And a little humorous.

Earlier in the week, other strange circumstances connected me with the IPPC 4th Assessment Report.  I had never read it.  A brief section startled me: The Role of Local and Indigenous Knowledge in Adaptation and Sustainability Research.[2] “Research on indigenous environmental knowledge has been undertaken in many countries, often in the context of understanding local oral histories and cultural attachment to place. A survey of research … outline the many technical and social issues related to the intersection of different knowledge systems, and the challenge of linking the scales and contexts associated with these forms of knowledge. With the increased interest in climate change and global environmental change, recent studies have emerged that explore how indigenous knowledge can become part of a shared learning effort to address climate-change impacts and adaptation, and its links with sustainability.”

How did this report come to me?  The novel called it forth.  The inner world and the outer world, experience and the imagination, life and spirit, they are always in resonant exchange.  This report came to me because its material is central to the novel.  Every environmental /earth scientist will read the Assessment, so will the characters in my book.  But perhaps, the Assessment came so that I, as a citizen, will read it.  So that it can be brought to your attention here.  So that you , and I, will learn something of what we are facing AND that spirit exists.  Both and together.

I do not know how to restore the earth any more than I know how to write this book.  But I do know that it is necessary to take signs seriously and listen deeply.  This is one of my commitments to these times.

And so the dream.  I am trying to follow the meaning and implication of the dream.  In a strange way, Judith Curry is part of the dream.  As so are the characters in the novel I am writing.  Environmental scientists.  Earth scientists.  How do they bear it?  How do they live given what they know?

Often dreams pose questions rather than answering them.  Dreams focus our attention in new ways.  Here are some questions the dream may be asking:

How do we live if there are no known remedies?

Are there changes we are being called to make whether or not we know in advance whether anything will make a difference?

What might it mean to give up life as usual to actively face and meet these grief times?

How do we shift, if we don’t know what to do?

At least for this moment, let us agree.  Let us not live life as usual.  Let us not live  business as usual. Let us not allow life, our lives, to be beholden to commercially designed, media driven, technologically determined life style.

How, then, will we live?  How will we live each moment with integrity?

I had breast cancer in 1977.  I sought out the life force, as a healing strategy, in the face of threat.  In 1997, I wrote a journal of healing, Tree.[3]  In it, I named the life force, Toots.  It was a proclamation. The question I asked then:  What are the forces in me that say Die and what are the forces in me that say, Live?

The answers were so easy then.  So personal.  I had to change my life and I did it.  At that time, a dream that alerted me that I had cancer, instructed me to step out silence.  To speak. That was one way.  I was a feminist; I understood how essential this was.

That dream in 1976  centered on fascism.  It was set in Chile under Pinochet.  It featured the Dina, the Chilean secret police, and a Nazi matron from Dachau who intended to use torture to silence me.

Today, as I remember the dream, and our need to identify our real lives, Daniel Ellsberg declares “”We have not only the capability of a police state, but certain beginnings of it right now,” Ellsberg told The Huffington Post Wednesday.[4] “And I absolutely agree with Edward Snowden. It’s worth a person’s life, prospect of assassination, or life in prison or life in exile — it’s worth that to try to restore our liberties and make this a democratic country.”

In my dream of August 24th, 2013, my friend and I speak silently of everything that is bringing us to grief.  Somewhere in our hidden conversation, teaching us how to live in such times, are Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.

Here is another question inspired by the dream and the gravity of this time:  If we have the courage and capacity to consider everything that is threatening us at once, might there be responses that can help us meet everything at once?

What would it mean to hold and consider everything at once?  In the dream, my friend wants to die because she cannot bear it but later it seems she capitulates to the need to live and bear everything.  What is everything?  We each have our own list:

It is probably divided between the deliberate killing and the concomitant dying.   The wars we are waging and the victims we have become of those wars.

(Please stay with me, with us.  If you’ve come so far, please read this list, create your own and stay present to it.)

The development, sale and use of weaponry and the victims of these weapons..  Nuclear weapons and the dangers of nuclear power.  Hiroshima / Nagasaki and Chernobyl /Fukushima.  Syria and the new potential for horrific war sparked by the U..S. Arms sales and rapes and murders.  Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Drones., Surveillance, poverty and prisons.  Sexual abuse, domestic violence, torture. Home foreclosures and city bankruptcies.  Hurricanes, tornados, and fire storms.  Monsanto, Keystone XL pipe lines, fracking, drilling, mountain top removal, coal,  and mining,   The melting glaciers, the release of methane from permafrost, the rise in carbon dioxide levels, the holes in the ozone layers, the rise of seas, the deaths of the polar bears …  Our maddened and suffering children.  All our losses and disconnections.

We murder and we die.  This is who we have become – murderers and victims, both and at once. “I have become death, “Oppenheimer declared.  That recognition did not save us.

Here is the challenge – for me and for us:  If we have the courage and capacity to consider everything that is threatening us at once, and every way we are living that supports it, might we find ways that can truly help us meet everything at once?

And what if no answers come that guide us to know what to do?  What if there are no remedies?  How will we live our lives?

So often, I come to writing thinking that there is something new and urgent that I must set down.  And then, I find myself, as at this moment, at the same insight.  But once again, with urgency.  Perhaps that is what writers and artists do.  We are given an essential form or insight that is ours to continuously examine and perfect.

Remember the classic story of the renowned Japanese carver who had saved a very particular log.  Being more than eighty, he told a friend, that after a lifetime of study, he  thought he might be ready to begin to carve.

Mitakye oyasin as a response, as a standard, meets everything at once.

The repeating, on-going, continuous, relentless, insistent understanding:  if we change out lives, if we step back entirely from those forms and habits that directly, if inadvertently, lead to Fukushima or any of the horrors we faced above, then … then … we still might save Creation.  Everyday, the need to change and the radical nature of the change gets greater and more urgent.  And even so, if there are no carbon emissions for the next year, the seas will not freeze over as before in a year or two.  But we do not know what might result from such a united and complete offering to Spirit.

Judith Curry wouldn’t speculate on global warming because she can’t calculate all the factors.  Or perhaps, she hit despair. When we hit despair, we go on with life as usual, in its most diminished form.  We continue to insist on what we, individually need and what we individually want.

Unlike Judith Curry and like all the contributors to the IPPC 5th Assessment, we can assume that global warming will get worse and we are responsible.  Therefore …

Just after 9/11/2001, I wrote in Entering the Ghost River: Meditations on the Theory and Practice of Healing (Hand to Hand):

“At the time when the planes hit, seven of us … were engaged in fierce ritual work.

“Two stories intersected in that moment: a story streaming toward destruction and a story streaming toward healing.”

The path toward destruction has gained momentum.  Fukushima may mean that destruction is imminent.  And yet …

I don’t know what is at the end of that last sentence.  I will let you finish it.  But the dream implies there are right responses even if we do not know them.  And that we are to choose life.  I am asking myself and all of us, what does it mean to choose life?

Are we willing to change our ways, to live in what Native Americans call the good ways, to step away from what leads to the tragedies we have each listed, even if, ultimately, it may not save our lives?  Are we willing to make those radical offerings?

At the end of When Women Were Birds, Terry Tempest Williams writes: “An albatross on Midway Atoll, dead and decomposing, is now a nest of feathers harboring plastic from the Pacific gyre of garbage swirling in the sea.  We can kneel in horror and beg forgiveness. Or we can turn away.  But the albatross crying overhead, buoyed up by the breeze, is now suspended in air by her vast bridge of wings.  She is the one who beckons us to respond.”

Terry learns that she has a tumor close to the language center of her brain.  Surgery might threaten her understanding or her speech.  Doctors giving second opinions “all asked the same question: ‘How well do you live with uncertainty?’

“’What else is there?’” she said.

The friend from the dream and I have just had a conversation.  “I have made the pledge to live twice,” she said.

“I have as well,” I answered.  “But I made it conditional upon reversing the terrible disorder of things. Perhaps the dream calls me to make the pledge unconditionally.”  As I write these words, I wonder if this is the offering?

My friend says, “You will not be alone if you choose life. We will help each other bear it.”


Since I was young, I have been told that we can’t go back to the way it was.  (Also that this way is better –  that is not worth bothering to refute.)  Don’t be a Luddite, I was advised – or warned.

This is the other theme explored here:  Everyone of us comes from an indigenous culture. That means we all come from people who knew the spirits, loved and interconnected with the earth and all its beings.  It means we have the love of the earth, beauty, art, song, healing, vision within us.  It means we have access to deep peace and respect for all beings.  It means that we can all follow the African way of Sankofa, the mythical bird that flies forward by looking back.

It means we can go back.  it means that, as in the dream, we can falter in our determination to kill ourselves and destroy all life.  It means we can gather the wisdom we need to live real lives.  It means we can be freed from what has taken us over. It means we do not have to continue on this death march of our own invention.

When Fukushima first exploded, I journeyed to Her, to the one who I called the Great Earth Sea Mother.  I didn’t dare do this in what is called real time, but I could do it through the ways that Spirit has given us to reach across from one realm to another.  I wanted to comfort Her of course.  She did not allow me to ease my heart that way.  “Be with me,” she said.  So I was as extensively as I was able.  Imagine then, the pain of the on-going nuclear reaction within her, the unimaginable fire, the continuous, relentless agony.

We don’t know how to decontaminate the waters.  We don’t know how to ease her pain.  A hundred years estimated to repair the nuclear facility?  How many years until the radiation is spent?

But we also don’t know what will be possible if we go back to the original wisdom and live accordingly.  I don’t think any indigenous people on the planet have the intention of  saving  us.  But living in the old ways, that they have so carefully and respectfully preserved, may save the earth.

Mitakye Oyasin.

25 responses to “Realities Enter Our Lives: Fukushima and the Future

  1. Gloria Orenstein August 25, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    Dear Deena, I have just read your RUIN AND BEAUTY. Our Mother Earth is in her own agony. My own encounter with things like Fukushima go back to my marriage when I lived on the site of Brookhaven National Laboratory–before I had children. They were always transporting the nuclear wastes to the wastesite, and the white bubbly wasteproducts were pouring out of vats onto our grass (we lived in I tiny huts from the war) –for graduate students. My husband was doing this research for his ph.D. At that time he wore a badge that would show how he was getting more radiation than was allowed for a human. After several days of this, I decided to leave,and I went to Cambridge, Mass. where I started to protest nuclear testing. This was when the group of protesters were just six or seven—people like Dave Dellinger and others I can’t recall. I knew back then that although the people at Brookhaven lied and assured us that what was happening could not affect humans, I decided to get out of there, and left Steve there. Soon afterwards there was an explosion of the Bubble Chamber, and then there was a similar one in the Midwest at their Cosmotron. Today I know that Brookhaven has the highest cancer rate in the country. They lie about these things; they know the dangers, and somehow I think that taking those risks and braving it all are tied up with their “mascu linity”. It was horrible and now it has escalated to this point. When I had my adult Bat Mitzvah in my late sixties, part of my parsha was about choosing life over death. Even at that time, I said the words by rote, and didn’t take it all in as deeply as I do today. As the planet gets sicker and depopulated by my friends, I have to choose life every day. I do. And now it is more like a Commandment. I don’t have any words of wisdom, but I continue to listen to all the “out of the box” programs that they have on—where I learn about how intelligences from other planets who are very evolved are visiting earth and intervening to help heal the planet. I don’t have any direct knowledge of this, but it seems as if this expansion of my understanding of the cosmos, or as they are into today–the galaxy–is often consoling. The Whistleblowers are coming forth and speaking out on so many subjects about which they have the behind the scenes knowledge. Some days I think the world will unite in a huge revolution of cosmic propostions and we will cause a reversal through vibrations and prayers and activism. Love, Gloria Orenstein

  2. Teru Kanazawa August 25, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    Dear Deena- What you have written certainly hits home for me. I have spent my last six months working with AIDS/HIV patients, many of whom are living in the face of impending death and are the embodiment of courage, in reviewing their lives, in spiritual practice (the indigenous I believe that you speak about), in pursuing their various passions living with hope and aspiration. They don’t talk about the end of life, it is almost superfluous. The older ones seek a community that is gone but not on the spirit level, they treasure it and know what is missing in contemporary culture. This is how I relate to what you are saying, while we live in a “connected age” we have the keen sense of loss of what could have been. Isn’t it possible to enhance community to the extent that if we die we know that we have reached the meaning of life in being truly connected and in love with each other. I think that anything that celebrates that is not in vain. Always, Teru

  3. rob purday August 26, 2013 at 1:03 am

    In some ways ‘not knowing’ is the bottom line, in others it is following the deep knowing that comes from the goodness in our own hearts……at best, the one leads us onwards into creativity, the other grounds it in life in accord with life……together they form the conversation… peace and creative unrest, Mitakye Oyasin………R

  4. Jerry Jaz August 26, 2013 at 1:22 am

    How is it we go from all things are possible to impossibility of going on? At 61 I have been parenting myself for 37 years and mark success by a lack of harm in my wake. Worth living for? My blind ambition is to do something right without reason. Willing that it comes naturally through some odd assortment of sitting on my hands when I am angry and fanning the ember of creativity smoldering at the electrical level inside my every muscle movement.

    Without setting a bar high or drawing a line in the sand will I progress? The reverse mortgage of my being demands I forget where I came from. A constant undressing the debt commercial society whispers I owe; undressing the layers of lies strung faking the web of life; undressing the illusions I accepted about what it means to be a man. About what it means to be a person.

    I still feel guilty when I walk away from a live performance of artisans and catch myself exalting “This is what we were created for.” Every beauty experience asks me to see a mirror of it in everything else.

    I see my own willingness to employ violence when I am scared. I work to find the other side of accepting as normal the nourishment I receive from wielding power and feeling fear.

    I’m not there yet, but I am walking in that direction. Thanks to my friends and people like you.

    Be well,


  5. sue hammond August 26, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Deena, thank you for this extraordinary note/reflection/call. I am overwhelmed with how to respond, even though I know that nearly every sentence, every thought, every question and pondering, each unblinking facing of what we know, consciously and unconsciously, about where we–Earth, humans, non-humans, All relations–are now and are headed. I must meet this –elegiac may not be completely the right word because it is larger than that; it contains lament and sorrow and it contains a meditation on how/if to live or not; it contains the possibility–at times it can feel like the promise–of “gathering the wisdom we need to live real lives. It means we can be freed from what has taken us over. It means we do not have to continue on this death march of our own invention.”

    I watched Bidder #70 this weekend. The young man, Tim de Christopher stared in the face of the scientific fact (some time in 2008, I believe) that we had already reached the point of no return, in terms of climate change and the end of the planet as we have known it. He was about 19 or 20 years old, I think, when Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Terry Root confirmed that to him, touched his shoulder gently and said, “I’m so sorry our generation has failed you.” He went outside and burst into tears. And…out of that despair that overtook him for some time, came a kind of “relief”: he knew that he was freed to do whatever he felt was right, no matter the personal consequences, no matter the eventual outcome of the human species or the planet. He had nothing to lose in acting fully with all his being to doing all he determined was right , moral, life affirming.

    That is how and where I want to stand. And that most definitely calls for changes in my life… life. I will join with any and all others who will help me grow that commitment and the fortitude needed to be able to grieve when grief comes, to be outraged when outrage is felt, to act when action is what I believe I am called to do. This is in line with Daniel Elsberg, whom you referred to, Deena, when he spoke about the restoration of our liberties in the Huffington Post , “And I absolutely agree with Edward Snowden. It’s worth a person’s life, prospect of assassination, or life in prison or life in exile — it’s worth that to try to restore our liberties and make this a democratic country.”

    I had a dream recently. I’ll share only a part of it here that relates to despair, to completely broken hearts, and to the very real possibility that whatever we do may be too little, too late: I was in what seemed to be French countryside. In a medow with my four daughters when they were younger. I was sitting with them in the meadow. It was the end of my marriage. Their dad was there, not really saying the words but stumbling through a good-bye to his daughters. I looked over to the silver gray wood house we had lived in. Windows were broken. Doors missing. I knew the inside was in shambles. All was broken. I looked over at an old bench. Even the bench was falling apart to the point we could not sit in it. I had no idea what to fix, how to fix all that was broken…”everything at once”. Impossible. Especially impossible with a broken heart, with my 6 year old youngest daughter, whose heart I could see inside her chest. It was bleeding, broken completely in half. I knew that of all that was broken, there was one very important thing that I had to fix. But I could not remember the one important thing. I felt desperate. Suddenly, I looked over at the bench. Behind the bench was the broken handle to the well. Without it fixed, there would be no water from the spring that fed the well. The clear stream that ran underground that fed the well that kept us and the land and the garden of crops alive. That is where I began to walk with my broken heart, my hand holding the hand of my little daughter whose heart was bleeding with grief and despair. Walking to the handle, thinking: “people live with broken hearts. People do great things every day with broken hearts. People don’t always stay in that place. They move. They act. They give…even with broken hearts. Then maybe I can, too. Then I woke up…in still terrible grief over my daughter, but remembering the litany of all who carry on with broken hearts.

    Which brings to my mind this…from the Talmud: To save one life is to save the world entire. One can contain everything? Everything is One? We are all one?

    This is overly long for the reply section. My apologies. I am deeply moved by your reflection, Deena.

  6. Suzanna Alexander August 26, 2013 at 4:31 am

    Personal and professional experiences continually lead me to a staying presence with both/and, “everything at once”, living/dying, life/death. I will stay with you, with us. Thank you for the invitation, Deena. Suzanna

  7. lindaseeley August 26, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Dear Deena, I want to meet you. I’ve been reading Ruin and Beauty for about a year, and it touches me deeply. I work daily with the unyielding catastrophe that has wrapped itself around world, Fukushima, and with the powder keg that is just 11 miles from where I sit this morning. Two and a half years ago, I had never heard the word Fukushima, and today, it is a constant thrumming in the back of my head wherever I go. I know you teach writer’s workshops – that’s what I would like to join. I want to hone my writing skills enough to have an impact on how Fukushima and the biocide called nuclear energy affect our lives and our will to live. Thank you. Linda Seeley San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace diablo canyon

  8. Cynthia Stewart August 26, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I too am concerned very much about the Fukishima disaster. It is coming here soon. I am painting landscapes of it.

  9. Deena Metzger August 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    We have to find the words that will serve the way they did once – they served creation and everything moved from there. Let’s see what we can do.

  10. Deena Metzger August 27, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    Dear Sue: What a beautiful response for which I / we are grateful. Your dream — is about your daughter’s heart break but it also about finding the broken handle to the well. This is exactly what I was writing about – it won’t matter what we do, if we don’t find and fix the way to the well, to the source. if we can reconnect with the underground stream – and here the image of Fukushima becomes very powerful – the waters are poisoned – how will we clear the waters, the underground streams, our Great Earth Sea Mother. Our children will continue to be heart broken if we don’t do what we are called to do, which may be to set down her hand, and get to work on the well.
    And to do it because, as you say:

    He had [ WE HAVE] nothing to lose in acting fully with all his [OUR] being to doing all he [WE DETERMINE IS RIGHT, MORAL, LIFE GIVING!] determined was right , moral, life affirming.

  11. Deena Metzger August 27, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Thank you for actively caring.

  12. Deena Metzger August 27, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you to you too, Suzanna

  13. Deena Metzger August 27, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    Rob has a powerful post on owlmirror – see his url — on Fukushima and everything. I recommend it.

  14. Deena Metzger August 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    Sometimes we have to take a great leap over the obstacles we think are within us. Blessings, Deena

  15. Deena Metzger August 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    In the place where there may be no remedy, as with your AIDS/HIV patients, there is the opportunity to live as if our lives are the remedy, without holding anything back, because there is nothing to lose. We have everything to lose, everything, if we hold anything back at this critical time. Because we don’t know a remedy, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. But there won’t be one, if we don’t offer ourselves entirely. And thank you, Teru, for responding. i so appreciate these moments when we meet here and renew our common bonds.

  16. Deena Metzger August 27, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Dear Gloria:
    We have been at this together, or alongside each other, whether connected or not, for so long. I didn’t know this story of Brookhaven, or maybe I don’t remember, but I will remember now. What you are saying is that you walked away, you turned away from the nuclear enticement. What a fabulous role model you are. Let us all turn away and say NO.

  17. earthling3 August 28, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Deena, thank you so much for this very soulful contemplation of ‘how shall we live’ (knowing what we know). I spend every day reading about the ongoing unfolding catastrophe. It is strangely comforting to read your honest reflections, even while grieving the loss of your husband to divorce, of all things, at age 77! What would I do if that happened to me, I ask myself. I have admired your writing for decades. I am grateful to Carolyn Baker for bringing you back to my attention today on her evermore-dire Daily News Digest as a “MUST READ!” And so it is. I have recommended it on Facebook for the many WOMEN to whom it might provide balm for the soul. Mitakye Oyasin.

  18. Laurie Markoff August 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    My dear Deena,
    I did not read your latest post until Tuesday night, waiting for a time when I could give it my full attention. You write what so many of us are holding, and it is somehow comforting to see the words put on it. Wednesday morning was so beautiful here, it had rained and then cleared and everything was sparkling and the air was soft. But when I went to pray, I had no words. Or almost no words, just- PLEASE. Please help us, Help us what? Help us to face what must be faced and not look away and ALSO continue to love what we love as fiercely as we can. To the end if it must come, but PLEASE help us to find a way to prevent the end. I’ll do ANYTHING, please…
    I want to add a couple of things to the list. But I keep two lists. The list of what we must face and the list of the signs of hope. I keep two lists so that I do not go mad.
    To the list of what we must face I add these details from my daily life of this past week:
    We are locking up our children in prisons at younger and younger ages. In prisons they learn to close their hearts and use violence in order to survive. And even if we release them, the consequences of that experience stay with them. We create boy soldiers and we create violent felons. I sat in case conference this week next to Steve, a young man who grew up on the streets. He spoke of a teenager he is working with who was virtually born into a gang. His brothers are in the gang and even if he refused to participate, everyone in town would include him as a member. And he does not refuse, because these are his brothers and because even his grandmother will send him out to make a buy if she is desperate enough. This boy would like to find a way out, but he does not see one. He talks to Steve, because Steve has been there. We speak of matching him up with a graduate of a residential treatment program across the state- can we maybe get him far enough away and into another culture so he does not end up in prison before he is 16? It is a long shot. But we will take it.
    And another thing for the list. Our culture drives people mad. And when they come to our psychiatric hospitals for healing, we use coercion and physical restraints or inject them with drugs in order to control their behavior. The people who do this want to be healers and want to help. But because of “business as usual” we do not direct our resources toward creating places of real safety and sanctuary for people to go when they are troubled. At a meeting this week a peer specialist tells a story about giving out medications and trying to make it more pleasant for patients by setting up a juice bar and letting them choose a beverage to go with their medication as she plays the role of waitress. The other workers do not want her to do this because then the patients will “expect it”. And then the hospital food police come and say that patients can no longer have juice with their medication because they are all too fat and should not have the calories. These people have so little choice and control in their lives. We seen to have lost our ability to be empathic with their experience and treat them with dignity and respect. We do not treat them as if they were our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Because we don’t want to face the fact that they could be.
    And now, for the other list. These are also details from my daily life of this past week.
    I did not read your last posting until Tuesday night. On Wednesday, I encountered three people I knew who had read the post, two of whom found their way to your blog without knowing my connection to you. You, as my Native American friend Maureen says when she prays, “send a voice” and that voice is a thread that weaves together a tribe of people who understand that we have to change our ways.
    My 23-year-old daughter spent this last year as a teacher’s aid, teaching English to high school students who are refugees. She loved this work, and so has begun graduate school to become a teacher of English Language Learners. She took a class in multiculturalism that referred to children from other cultures as “presenting difficulties”. Her final paper for that class, confronted, in very diplomatic ways, this form of “othering” and presented alternative, more progressive ways of looking at multiculturalism with a full list of citations.
    She just had her first meeting with the teacher she will be interning with this year. When she saw the reading list, she said,” You know, I love all of these books. But it seems to me we should include in our curriculum at least one book that is written by someone who is not a white male. When the teacher admitted that he had tried to teach Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” but found it too difficult, she offered to take responsibility for teaching that book.
    When she was 11, my daughter overheard me talking. With tears in her eyes, she said,” But Mommy, if what you are saying is true, we have to change EVERYTHING.” At the time, I was sorry I had let her hear the conversation that caused her that anguish. And I think I was preparing her to live in the times she was born into.

  19. Deena Metzger August 31, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    My dear Laurie and my dear, or, our dear, Everyone: We are beginning a real dialogue, or, better said, a true council. Speaking openly of our grief and telling the stories that we are living, is a way of bearing witness and, perhaps, inspiring change. And so Laurie’s daughter knew that we had to change EVERYTHING when she was 11. And now she is beginning (or continuing, most probably) her part of changing EVERYTHING so that EVERYTHING changes. I wanted to spare my children, but truly, I was more afraid of the consequences of their ignorance. For them and for all of us. It was hard for me to write this piece. Perhaps as hard as letting our children know what is. I am so grateful for this response and for the co-respondence that is beginning – for surely, unless we change EVERYTHING …. and this can only be done TOGETHER.

  20. burrowing owl didgeridoo August 31, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Deena et al,

    The burrowing owls here always feel it when you write on ruin and beauty. Showing us “what writing (a blog) really is ”

    Offering ‘holy links’ below to (video interview with UK bio-physicist Dr. Barrie Trower ) Save the Holy Code ! (DNA)

    Hu Hu …LOVE.

  21. Deena Metzger August 31, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you Burrowing Owls, but to be honest, i posted your response without watching the video. I don’t watch videos – i read. So I take no responsibility for what is here. I will, however, when I have time, see if he’s written anything i can read. Among other virtues, reading saves time and allows thinking. My opinion – no need to agree. And, I won’t argue it. I did learn from the first second he is a microwave expert and so is probably warning us, rightly, about the dangers to DNA, which is EVERYTHING from our microwave environment.

  22. cal September 1, 2013 at 10:58 am


    You have helped us know that every drop of unconditional love is cherished by creation, regardless of outcomes.

    Thankou, Just watched these world-class videos, in which Dr. Trower verifies that soon the only intact DNA on earth will be found in regions virgin from wireless technology !

  23. Deena Metzger September 2, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Hello. This is not a reply to you per se — but a general comment. Despite the fact that I think i agree with the post you sent, I don’t feel comfortable posting links to other articles, videos etc. that I haven’t read or seen. I did below and it is probably the last time. I would like to comments to be directly related to the content of the Blog piece and from individuals. i don’t have time to read or watch whatever is sent, and I shouldn’t post without knowing what i am posting. So as I write this I realize that integrity calls me to remove the video below. Deena

  24. eilalean wolfe September 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you Deena. For years I have been in despair, choosing to remain conscious about what is happening on the earth. I think finally the winds are shifting. I believe alternative media is responsible for the shift. It encourages me to see more and more people come into an awareness of the truth of the u.s. gov’t and the dark ones perpetrating evil upon this earth. Now the world is no longer easily fooled by their lies. It is so refreshing to see the winds of Truth begin to blow strong amongst the people. There is still much to be done, but this is an encouraging change that I think we all can celebrate and feel some hope. I consume a lot of alternative media and I can tell you there is change upon the air. I share this that all of you might feel some encouragement.

  25. Laura Bellmay September 11, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Dearest Deena,
    I am sickened by the truths that you have shared here. It is, yet again, another anniversary of September 11th. Two stories coincided on that day, as you said in your book, one of destruction and one of healing. There, before we knew of the bombings in New York, with you as witness amid the ruins of the 13c Shona Empire, I had a vision . . . or rather two. The first was of men and women clothed in loincloths, screaming, covered in blood. They were speared and impaled by arrows. Their unbearable screams soaked the air. Everywhere the pillage left crimson scars on the earth. The second was that of the earth, new and whole, emerging from between the legs of the Great Mother. Her birthing was difficult and the new Earth split her open. Her anguish inexorable-pain that was never before felt-She felt and pushed out the earth in spite of it. Yet it was this birth that was hopeful. Could this still be so, might we have time to undo what we all have done? I had dedicated myself to being transformed by Spirit and then I lost my way. How does one not succumb to despair? I appear not to have learned how to hold it.

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