.For some reason the time in PA has been elusive to try to write about. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that I started to get a cold right after leaving the Garrison Institute, so my body went into a space of exhaustion that created a bit of tunnel vision.
We ended up consolidating the two nights of events into one due to scheduling issues, which felt like a helpful emergence because it was more within the scope of my capacity to hold at that time. And so the grief gathering took the form of a potluck, an abridged performance of the clown show, and then the Grief Composting Circle.
The attendees at the evening were friends of my hosts and were all either members of transition town or other inner work groups in the area. We ended up being a group of all women and most folks were in their fifties or sixties.
I was really struck by the depth of the group and their readiness to participate in the performance and the ritual. Especially in a time when I was feeling low-energy and limited capacity, this felt like the perfect group to be creating the ritual with.
Tending the grief circle from such a space of vulnerability was a clear lesson about the power of the Grief Composting ritual that my teacher, Azul-Valerie Thome, has created. I had to really surrender any attempts to try to create an experience and completely let go into the form itself.
Opening up the space for the larger earth energies to come through me, I started singing and drumming and really felt myself becoming a vessel for sounds and expressions much vaster than me. And the group of women attending all began to collaborate in this weaving of sound also, which made it a powerful container in which to grieve.
At the end of the ritual, we discovered that the water had disappeared from the bowl in the center of the altar that was receiving the grief. It was a wooden bowl with a crack in it, and so it appeared the water had slowly seeped out and been absorbed by the cloth below.
The day before I left, my host took me to a park with a beautiful walking path going into a wooded area. We walked past beautiful old trees scarred with generations of names. I imagined the young people who carved into the living bark, oblivious to its life, and the longing in their writing—notice me, see me, don’t forget I existed. I honor the trees who carry this wounding, reaching below into earth to entwine in roots and above to transcend in vivid green leaves.
As we continued walking, the path followed alongside of a stream. My host told me how the stream used to be much bigger, but that a dam had been created so that a lake could be used for recreation, and the flow of the water to the creek had since almost dried up. Then, little by little the dam began to break down and slowly water began to flow through again.
These scarred trees growing up into aliveness and the persistent water streaming through the dam resonated as metaphors of the grief this culture carries and the resilience of the earth that is calling us back into relationship.
I stood watching for a long time until the bowl had floated out of sight.
This deeply meditative time in PA has really opened up an invitation to re-imagine the vision of the Earth Grief Project, a process that is happening slowly for me, with the intention of putting my ear to the earth and listening for the resonances that arise instead of trying to control an outcome.
The intuition I am following into structure right now is that the project is asking for me to spend some time articulating a vision, which I will already be doing the rest of this year in the form of my dissertation for my MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts.
As I am writing the dissertation, I will share the process in the form of blog posts and zoom conversations on the Earth Grief website and patreon.
I am imagining that this dissertation can form the material for workshops and experiential gatherings around Earth Grief and the nurturing Ecological Imagination in 2019.
This fall I will also begin to tend regular Grief Composting Circles in Minnesota and join other grief tenders in the community in imagining what an ecosystem of spaces for grief might look like.
I leave this week for my residency at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT, where I will be performing the clown show and offering the ritual. I am curious to see what reflections come out of the experience of sharing this work with my artistic cohort.
When I return to Minnesota in early August, I will begin to revise the website and curate a structure of writings and events for the rest of the year.
I’ll be shifting my communications and reflections about the project to the Earth Grief mailing list from now on, so this is the last time you’ll hear from me on the gofundme. If you’d like to continue to hear about the project, you can sign up here: