Friday, April 13, 2012


Friday the 13th. I don't know, seems like just another day...

When the earth gets this dry, I realize again how much I love the rain - the sound of it, the way it quiets down my spirit, how it washes all the dirt and grit away making the urban world vivid again. We hardly realize how much dust we live with from our industrial world until it is showered away.

Photo: Margaret Swedish
Gentle rainfalls of spring - I used to look forward to them, those long rainy days when contemplation comes easily, the mesmerizing sound of it in the night, how, if I enter into that sound, breathing and heart beat slow and become one with it, part of it, all this blessed earth.

It's one way we humans have changed everything. The rains have changed. The seasons have changed. And therefore, so has the human spirit.

And I think not in a good way.

We have forecasts for rain and storms over the weekend, and I pray for it, offer my heartfelt longings to the rain gods that they come through this time. Maybe I can get some writing done.

The change in climate puts me on edge. I know I'm not alone in this. Actually, we all sense it somewhere inside, being biological beings, after all. That edginess is part of what we spend our lives trying to avoid feeling. It might suggest something to us that we would rather not have to consider.

I write from what I know, and what I know is that nature is changing, and I know the damage we have done to accelerate that change. We are going to be a different species as those changes unfold. An improvement? The jury's out on that one, but let's just say the trajectory doesn't look so good right now.

One of the roles of writers, I believe, is to articulate as best they can the truth of our world. We do this through stories and poems, through fiction and creative non-fiction, through a powerful image or the turn of a phrase. Our western brains think they can explain the world, that the best analysis will win the day. I seldom find that works. What I have found is that that 'gasp,' that moment when a light goes on, or a shade is drawn from a window, and we 'see' differently, comes more often from art and/or experience than rational argument. And we are in desperate need of something other than brain-led argument right now, defenses of positions and world views.

More traditional cultures were often held together by story-telling, literally, elders sitting with the village and reciting the narratives that described the origins of a people, the stories that held them together. Our narratives are tearing us apart, and many of them are made to fit into 140 characters on little tiny handheld tech toys. And that often seems about as deep as we are willing to go.

Stormy sky at sunset. Photo: Margaret Swedish
I pray for rain. I do mantras for the rain. I light candles and incense for the rain. I want abundant rain to wash the dust and grit off my world and off my troubled soul, to cleanse the human spirit of my city, my local culture, so fearful of change, of moving towards the new paradigms that get talked about endlessly - but from the same lifestyles and small worlds in which so many remain. We won't change the world if we don't change our lives, if we don't actually move our lives in the direction of our aspirations, visions, and dreams.

Too many narratives stay in our heads and in our book groups, guided processes, and retreat spaces set apart from our daily lives. It's not that these are not helpful and inspiring spaces, often healing and renewing, motivating and energizing, community building and friendship-deepening - they have their vital role: but the real act of creation comes when we leave them, when we take what we learn there and move that out into a world so reluctant to change in spite of the evidence of urgent need to do so.

The real writing, the true stories, the ones that will last, are the ones we are willing to write with our lives.

Come rain. Wash the clutter away. We are in great need of you.

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