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Gleanings #3

I wanted to recommend two videos from a talk by David Abram. I’m reading his book Becoming Animal at the moment and loving it. These are short clips, and the quality is poor, but they are worth watching. In the first he speaks passionately of our flight from embodiment and its consequences. In the second he tells a marvelous story about an encounter with the more-than-human world. Lovely.

I also enjoyed this interview of Paul Kingsnorth by Rob Hopkins of the Transition Towns movement. Having done my own time working in the environmental movement, I really appreciate Kingsnorth’s perspective on the question of how to live now given everything we’re up against. In my own life I still struggle with what seems like the necessity of withdrawing. I believe the game is over, and that our society is already unraveling, and on some level I welcome that. We cannot go on like this. But there’s something in me that still can’t quite let go completely.

And finally, I found Francis Weller’s latest essay remarkably beautiful and moving. He was recently asked about the value of grieving the destruction of nature. When all seems already lost, what’s the point of grief? Why bother? This is his response. Profound.


  1. Ruth, I will definitely check out the interview and the essay and possibly the book. I am all for embodiment and it has made a world of difference to me in my spiritual-human-Earth practice.

    I used to think the Earth could be saved, but as I am educating myself more and more, the damage done to the planet (which means damage to ourselves) is much worse than I thought. Not to mention, I have been learning what may be going on behind the scenes in our government (New World Order, etc.) Even though I have been a “greenie” for years, I don’t how I managed to be ignorant or asleep to what is really going on. I think that is the way things are set up through our media, schools, etc. so we don’t know and the status quo is deeply embedded into our consciousness as “normal/natural”. For example. it is “natural” to live in a polluted world, so natural that we don’t even realize how polluted it is. And then, we go and visit nature as a luxury.

    There is a lot to meditate on here, to go into the unknown. I feel deeply called to help spread awareness, solutions, etc. At the same time, I wonder if we can get our collective act together in time before the destruction is too great. We have already, in my humble opinion, passed the 11th hour. As some people say, saving the planet is saving ourselves. The Earth doesn’t really need us and once we as a species are gone, it would heal and regenerate over time.

    • Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Erin. And such a thoughtful one! I am loving Becoming Animal mainly because Abram doesn’t write in a didactic way, simply telling you what to think. Rather, the writing is evocative and reflective of the invitation that he is extending on behalf of the more-than-human world: It evokes a world that is alive and urging us to remember that we are of it. That’s such a comfort in these dark times.

      And to your other point… even though it seems scary and dangerous to let ourselves acknowledge how bad things are, there’s also a kind of relief that comes with it. Maybe it’s the relief of finally being honest with ourselves? I don’t want to get swallowed up by the grief and darkness of the destruction. But I do want to let myself be able to have it. As Francis Weller says, grief is a way that we express our connection to what is happening and to the suffering of nature. Normalizing the insanity of our society, the delusion of the human bubble, and pretending everything is OK and that this can actually be sustainable is how we perpetuate the myth of separation. More of us need to have the courage to say this is not normal or natural, and it’s killing us. I hear you saying that, and I’m grateful. Thank you.

  2. For me, it is the Francis Weller essay that reminds me of what is always possible, whether or not the human race survives. In my time here, I want to do all I can for all that survive with the planet, and the essay gives me a practical way to do that every day. In many ways I have been doing what it suggests yet I wondered if I were just being starry-eyed. Perhaps not.

    The Abram videos complement the essay, and I am glad to know of the book. I am an overt optimist for all beings but the human race, if I am honest. As you say, I do not relish darkness or destruction but I do not want to avoid it either. Practicing good manners gives me hope for I feel I am respecting life itself, no matter what comes.

    I am glad to have found your blog. I may not always comment but I always read.

    • Thank you so much for this lovely comment, Karen. Yes, I also find Francis Weller’s words helpful and uplifting. I hear him echoing something that I believe: That humans are here on this planet to witness and celebrate its unfolding. What better use for this peculiar awareness of ours? We have forgotten this purpose and all but completely lost our way. It seems to me essential at this moment that those of us who remember find a way to return to this focus. At this dark time especially we must keep the faith on behalf of our species. What could be more important?

  3. I don’t have time to watch the videos now, hopefully I’ll return to them soon. I did read the essay though and it is beautiful. The humble generousity he extends to the more-than-human world gives me a great deal of hope and inner warmth.

    On the weekend I facilitated a grief ritual and one of the participants expressed compassion for a small blue piece of rubber she had found on the ground. She grieved that this beautiful blue had been transformed into ‘rubbish’ and used to sully the environment. I was profoundly moved by her inclusion of all matter in her understanding of the sacred.

    • Ah, thanks for sharing the story about the blue rubber. It’s so heartening to know that we can be moved by such things. That compassion and connection are so close by. Wonderful! I’m so glad to hear about people coming together to share these things. I’m grateful to know that you’re creating the space for these conversations. 🙂

  4. When I read Becoming Animal, I was enthralled by his writing…as you mention, not just the topic but his writing style completely captivated me. I hadn’t yet read his first book Spell of the Sensuous, and I still like BA best.

    • Yes, I like BA best too. Dare I say, I think there’s a similarity between your style of writing and DA’s. There’s an abundance, a fullness… a feeling of widening circles. 🙂

      • Very kind of you to say…thank you! 🙂

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