The Work that Reconnects
Emerald Earth will be hosting a series of rituals based on The Work that Reconnects this year, led by Vincent Brown, a student of Joanna Macy. We are excited to share this powerful work with anyone who is interested. Below is a short piece by Vincent about the work. You can also check out these websites: workthatreconnects.org and joannamacy.net
We will be hosting an Introduction to the Work that Reconnects on April 16th. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in participating.
The Work that Reconnects
by Vincent Brown
The Work That Reconnects (WTR) is a form of personal and group work with the central purpose to bring people into a new relationship with their world, to empower them to take part in the ‘Great Turning,’ and to reclaim their lives from corporate rule. Created by Buddhist scholar, author and ecophilosopher Joanna Macy, WTR has roots back to the beginning of the Deep Ecology Movement and the first efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear arms. Books by Macy include Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age (Macy, 1983); Thinking Like a Mountain (Seed, Macy, Fleming, and Naess, 1988); Coming Back to Life (Macy and Brown, 1998, 2014), and Active Hope (Macy and Johnstone, 2013). Throughout the evolution of WTR the overall objective could be said to be to help people reconnect to their inner sense of self, to each other, and to life.
The Great Turning refers to the movement away from a life-threatening human presence on Earth to one with life honoring and thriving global societies. The systems theory underlying WTR is implicit in the practices and teachings; however, to aid the reader’s understanding I offer the following abbreviated list of assumptions that guide the work:
- This world, into which we are born, is alive.
- Our true nature is far more ancient and encompassing than the separate self defined by habit and society.
- Our experiences of pain for the world spring from our connectivity with all beings, from which also arises our power to act on their behalf.
- Psychological unblocking occurs when our pain for the world is not only acknowledged, but experienced.
- When we reconnect with life by choosing to bear our pain for it, the mind retrieves its natural clarity.
- The experience of reconnection with the Earth community arouses the urge to act on its behalf.
The WTR has a structure, or roadmap, called the Spiral, teachings and practices that invite participants to inquire into, embody, and experience their true values and feelings. Many of the practices have a spiritual underpinning that grounds us in community and to the land that we occupy. There are four stops along the Spiral where information is shared and practices are experienced: Gratitude, Honoring our Pain for the World, Seeing with New Eyes, and Going Forth. As the cycle is completed, participants return to gratitude and enter the spiral again. This is a recursive process, looping back around on itself, with each revolution bringing us into contact with deeper and deeper levels of our truth.
We begin the Spiral with gratitude, as it is the foundation of the work. Here we express our thankfulness and our joy for life; family, loves, friends, beautiful moments. When we are embedded in gratitude we gain the strength and courage to face the troubles in our lives and in the world; we can honor our pain for the world, the second station on the Spiral. When we acknowledge the pain we feel, the sadness, the horror, the not-knowing, we hear our own voices speaking our truth, possibly for the first time. It is important for each of us to hear what we truly believe to be true about the state of the world and her children. If we can speak our painful truth and listen deeply to others speak theirs, we open to something greater than fear, anger, and despair. By honoring our pain for the world we find that we are not consumed by that pain; instead we become empowered by seeing the world in new ways.
This is the next step along the Spiral, seeing with new eyes. When we see with new eyes we can face the pain directly, without looking away, potentially inspired to become involved with creating new social structures, systems, and institutions that support the Great Turning. We also find we are not alone; many people and groups around the world are involved in making a better place for the children of today and those yet to be born. This brings us to going forth, the fourth step of the Spiral, which is about connecting, networking, collaborating, becoming agents of positive social change. During each of these steps along the Spiral there are teachings and practices that help us discover our truth for ourselves.
Yet this is not the end of the practice. On another occasion we take the time to be together and enter the Spiral again, to speak and hear truth. We must go back time and time again, deepening, feeling, emoting, for the wounding of ourselves and of the world is deep. By going back to gratitude and entering the Spiral again, we learn to honor and respect each other and our individual walks in life, creating together the ascending spiral of conscious awareness.