Suffering as a Gateway - A Meditation
I saw this post on Instagram via @Indegenousgoddessgang the other day while Notre Dame was burning :
It reminded me that pain and loss can be a gateway to empathy. If you feel even a tinge of grief or sadness for the cathedral burning, I hope that leads you to an awareness that countless sacred sites have been destroyed and are being destroyed… today. Much of the destruction that occurs, occurs to the sacred sites of people marginalized by Western and Industrial Cultures, and much destruction has occurred / occurs at the hands of the Catholic Church.
In the comments of the Instagram post I saw someone say, “Suffering is not a competition”, which for the peace and wholeness of our global community, I would agree with, and I would also note, that I can simultaneously disagree with this point and myself; that the value of a building is less than the value of human lives and that value cannot be compared.
The point Casey Duoma was making in their quote that, “This shock and dismay is the type of feeling indigenous people feel when our lands and sacred sites are damaged and threatened,” should continuously wake me up as a white person to the pervasive damage that has happened / is happening in the world. I need to expand my empathy and sadness for all the sacred that has been lost, and is currently threatened through the culture and privilege which I am a part of. I need to love the world, the human community and the more-than-human community far deeper and wider than I currently am. This could (should) be my (our) challenge.
Today there are many losses to grieve and much damage and pain to be angry about. The world has lost many precious places by the hands of the inhumane, cruel, greedy and unaware, and also, there is much to be saved and celebrated still. Much to rejoice over and love richly.
I visited a natural site that is a church to me with a friend this week and watched Great Blue Herons making their nests on an island I have come to love immensely. I hope to offer a reciprocity of spirit to the place, for all the gifts it has brought to me.
This weekend I am celebrating Earth Day with my friends, and in my small opinion the earth needs us to create space to simultaneously celebrate, protect and grieve the sacred, and to process the trauma. We must hold all of it, for the sake of our own wholeness and the planet’s. When you truly love someone, something, or some place, you don’t turn away when it’s painful. You show up.
May you immensely love the earth today. May you show up.
And, to quote Joanna Macy speaking of her environmental activism, “Grief got me into it.” There are a lot of folks living with grief today. May that grief move us towards action, reconciliation and activism. May your sadness move you to see and resonate with the sadness of others, in order to act as a balm for one another. May your loss motivate you to help protect what others hold dear. May you acknowledge the real wounds that exist in the world. May you own up to the damage you personally cause. May your suffering act as a gateway to empathy, in order to defend all the sacred that still exists on this dynamic and generous planet we all share.
Here are the words from the @indigenousgoddessgang post:
The mountain is a church.
The canyon is a church.
The ocean is a church.
The river is a church.
Mother Earth is a church.
- Indigenous Goddess Gang
I’ll end with three photos from the island I have come to love so deeply. The island lives in a part of the world where Pawtucket, Pennacook, Massachuset and Naumkeag people have lived for centuries and continue to live. (New historical data states that Naumkeag might actually be the name of a place not a tribe. I have decided to leave it in this list of people for due diligence.) May the photos of the island be a catalyst for you to be grateful for the places you love and consider sacred, to keep them safe, to offer them reciprocity, and to empathize and take action on behalf of the sacred sites of others.
We all share a planet worth loving deeply.