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Grief & Reconnection

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview of Joanna Macy with Krista Tippett. In the conversation they explore Joanna’s path, her early experiences, and her current insights. The fact that the dialogue draws heavily on the poetry of Rilke is a definite bonus.

I deeply value Joanna Macy’s teachings and view her as an important elder playing a critical role. I belong to a Work That Reconnects practice group, based on her teachings. I am so grateful for this beautiful, supportive circle of souls. We meet every couple of months to work with the group exercises Joanna developed to assist people in grappling with the ecological crisis. In WTR parlance, we call this the Great Unraveling, and part of our challenge is to not shrink back in avoidance but look it square in the eye and support each other in the inevitable grief that arises.

A comment Thalia made on an earlier post has me thinking about the relationship between grieving and the ability to move forward. Joanna certainly emphasizes this in the WTR. The sequence of the practice is always the same: gratitude, honoring our pain, seeing with new eyes, and going forth. She calls the second step – the grieving practices – “the jewel.” At first I didn’t get it, but the more I do this work the more I understand how the subsequent steps hinge on grief and gather momentum from that release.

Yet the work is also meant to foster hope, so we spend time grounding ourselves in the possibility of a Great Turning… A shift toward the creation of human societies that are life-honoring and life-enhancing. Sometimes it’s very hard for me to see how this might happen. But simply being with a group of people who are willing to believe that we can begin to make this shift is helpful and energizing. It shows me that my strategic mind doesn’t need to see where it’s all going or how it will turn out. I just need to let myself feel the resolve and hope and longing of this little community. That’s enough nourishment for the journey.


  1. Your description of the community you belong to is heartening. I’m about to start a monthly group in Melbourne, I hope it proves similarly nurturing.

    • Fantastic! I hope you find it as supportive and nourishing as I have found my group.

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