All Posts Tagged With: "uncertainty"

You’ll Understand When You’re Older

Photo by: Julie

This phrase was ringing in my ears yesterday morning. As the youngest of four, I heard it a lot growing up. I usually received it as an indication that I was lacking something, just not quick or experienced enough to catch on to what the big kids or the grownups were talking about.

I’m feeling that way lately. Confused, unsure. Certainly, we are dwelling in a time of great uncertainty. Joanna Macy‘s great keynote at Bioneers 2009 was all about this. Her talk, which, alas, is NOT up on YouTube, was titled, “The Hidden Promise of Our Dark Age: Discovering Our Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty in the Midst of Crisis.” Nobody does dark-and-light better than Joanna!

She spoke very lucidly about the three intertwining stories we are living. The first is “business-as-usual” — the industrial growth society. The second is the story of the great unravelling of living systems on this planet. The third is the Great Turning, from the industrial growth society to a healthy, living, balanced planet, a life-sustaining society.

There are no guarantees here. It strikes me that, in order to choose the third, societies all around the world¬†(particularly our own)¬†will have to grow up, to step out into the unknown, to be courageous and act in faith. In order to stand up to the power structures of the First Story, to take another path from “how it’s always been done” (which is a lie, anyway).

As Joanna puts it, we have managed to get ourselves born into this incredible time! It’s nothing short of a major revolution, along the lines of the agricultural and the industrial revolutions that propelled our species forward in great leaps. This is happening; it’s not theoretical. It is out there in our heart-minds (Joanna’s words, so apt). We can absolutely choose to join our voices with those of indigenous peoples who have always known of our connection to the web of life, our oneness with All.

At the same time, this is not a given. We have no guarantees that the Second Story won’t continue to play out as a result of our clinging to the First Story. That’s where the uncertainty comes in. We are VERY uncomfortable with uncertainty, and we try to avoid or ignore it at all cost.

Macy encourages us to see the gifts in this uncertainty, to get the gold from the dross as an alchemist would. Rather than elaborate on her list, I invite you to come up with your own. It’s rich, let me tell you! I will close with a poem that she read, neatly summing up these gifts. It’s Rilke’s last Sonnet to Orpheus (second section):

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent Earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.