This is my last post for 2018, and a farewell to the strange, painful, joyous year it has been. I think I have learnt a lot: about patience, about love, about the importance of speaking the truth (despite how confronting that may be to some people), and about trusting in the direction my life is taking, however difficult and downright odd that may be.
I had wanted this year to be all about embodiment, and in many ways it has been, I just haven’t always been able to see it. There is still so much work I need to do—most importantly, to get away from the ‘idea’ of embodiment, and into the practice of it. Yet I’ve written much this year that has been a direct emanation of my body, my feelings, my beliefs and knowings, and my presence in this place. I’ve written intuitively; and while sometimes I feel a little shy about that—maybe even a little crazy—I also know there is wisdom in the weird and wonderful words I have written down.
Always, there is the knowing in me that it is what is beneath that matters. Not just the solid ground below our feet, the body of the earth; but also the suppressed and forgotten wisdom of the past, of the ancestors who knew how to live, and may yet be able to teach us how; and the wisdom held under our own skin, in our flesh, our hearts, our guts, our blood and bone.
In a world that has become so obsessed with superficiality, with artificiality, with the violation of natural limits, all I want to do is return to the source, to myself as a biological being, who may perhaps be able to contribute to the emergence of a new human culture which rests upon, and reveres, this good and bountiful earth. I think we can all make a contribution.
To echo what David Abram says below, my faith is corporeal. We can explore this world of matter in so many ways: dreaming, meditating, art-making, writing, walking, singing, dancing, loving … Yet everything we do, and everything we are, is utterly dependent on what is, on the natural communities that surround us, the air, the ocean, the birds, the sun and moon … Matter is sacred, ensouled. And we all have a part to play in the unfolding of human culture in reciprocity with nature. I still have so much to learn, but I am slowly but surely finding my way forwards … or should that be backwards? Below?
In the end all I can do is trust that my heart, my embodied, ensouled self, will show me the way.
I will leave the last eloquent and vital wise words to David Abram, who is always an inspiration. And if you are inclined to celebrate, do have a Happy New Year. I will see you in 2019.
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When we speak of the human animal’s spontaneous interchange with the animate landscape, we acknowledge a felt relation to the mysterious that was active long before any formal or priestly religions. The instinctive rapport with an enigmatic cosmos at once both nourishing and dangerous lies at the ancient heart of all that we have come to call “the sacred.” Temporarily forgotten, paved over yet never eradicated, this old reciprocity with the breathing earth was here long before all our formal religions, and it will likely outlast all our formal religions. For it has always been operative underneath our various religions, nourishing them from below like a subterranean river.
… Our greatest hope for the future rests not in the triumph of any single set of beliefs, but in the acknowledgement of a felt mystery that underlies all our doctrines. It rests in the remembering of that corporeal faith that flows underneath all mere beliefs: the human body’s implicit faith in the steady sustenance of the air and the renewal of light every dawn, its faith in mountains and rivers and the enduring support of the ground, in the silent germination of seeds and the cyclical return of the salmon. There are no priests needed in such a faith, no intermediaries or experts necessary to effect our contact with the sacred, since—carnally immersed as we are in the thick of this breathing planet—we each have our own intimate access to the big mystery.
Each of us must finally enact this rapport in our own unique manner, discerning and learning to trust the particular gifts of our flesh even as we draw insight from the ways of others. Slowly we come to follow the promptings of our heart as it responds to the larger pulse of this earthly cosmos, listening inward even as we listen outward. And thus our voice, tentative at first, finds its own improvisational place in the broader polyphony—informed by, yet subtly altering, the texture of that wider music. Our rapport is ours alone, and yet the quality of our listening, and the depth of our response, can transform the collective texture of the real.
(David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, Vintage: New York, 2010, pp. 277–278; my emphasis in bold)