Lyn Stephens (WCC founding member, membership convenor, e-update editor)
I have been thinking a lot this month about how to live a good and satisfying life without denying the threats that face us all – not always easy. I am sharing a few thoughts on this topic and would love to hear how you approach these issues.
This year in our Book Club I have read a lot about grief, an ever present emotion as I look at our world and contemplate the future. But books we shared together, such as Summertime by Danielle Celermajer and Beyond Climate Grief by Jonica Newby, are also about great love. This is expressed perfectly in a quote, attributed to an unnamed climate scientist, from my current literary obsession, This one wild and precious life by Sarah Wilson:
‘There’s a power and an honour to grief because it means that we have loved something, and we have had a connection to a place or to a species of the planet. We need to find ways to mark our loss and share our loss but also to remind ourselves that we only grieve what we love. I think new rituals are essential to celebrate that love and to mark the loss and to come together for loss.’
The power of grief was also reinforced in Congress member Toni Hassan’s collaborative art performance Black Summer Lamentation: Grief and hope works in four acts, shared online this month and reported in our September e-Update. In her rationale for this piece Toni quotes Joanna Macey:
‘The landscape of my life is that dance with despair, to see how we are called to not run from the discomfort - not run from the grief and feelings of outrage, even fear… When we look at it, when we take it in our hands, when we can just be with it, look at it and keep breathing, then it turns, it turns to reveal its other face and the other face of our pain for the world is our love for the world, our absolute inseparable connectedness with all life.’
We grieve what we love, but we also stand up to protect what we love. As I read Sarah’s book and reflect on Toni’s public lament the grief is palpable, but so is the love. And love is needed for right action as affirmed so clearly in our Congress values including this one: ‘We assert that qualities of the heart (such as compassion, love, empathy, forgiveness) are the basis for true strength. These human laws must be reactivated for us to survive.’
As an organisation we aim to embody all of our values in how we work to achieve our vision. Take a look at our vision and values statement to consider how it resonates for you.
This one wild and precious life: A hopeful path forward in a fractured world by Sarah Wilson published by Macmillan in 2020.