Earth Etude for Elul 8: Like a River Flows

by Janna Diamond

“I would like to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.” – John O’Donohue

Janna's pic

What happens when we begin to awaken to what is in front of us, around us, and meeting us? Whose truth are we waking up to? Is it the “reality” of the heat being turned up–literally, like the past summer with the highest temperatures on record–and also the speed at which crises are converging? Or is it actually a mirror for our ability to see, feel, and hear our own truth-telling?

I’ve witnessed many conscious, politically engaged people recently confess to idealizing the way things were before they knew a particular fact or processed a piece of information that caused a shift in awareness. What went unnamed in these conversation was the acknowledgement that we cannot go back. That the tighter we hold on to the way things were or even currently are, the more pain we’ll endure. The tightening doesn’t allow for flow or unfolding. Or joy.

This isn’t about running to save the earth by returning her and all living beings to nostalgic yesteryear–it’s about us slowly peeling back our armor, especially those deep tough layers, to become awake in a sleeping world. And as the awakening occurs, not bypassing our own brokenness for what’s outside us. It is one and the same.

What pain have we been avoiding? What grief cries out in a faint voice aching for our attention? Calling in our gifts and doing the work of our time requires that we face ourselves.

Separation and othering creates an illusion that we are alone in this pain.  Alternatively, it is our collective awakening that brings us closer to one another and to truth. Whose truth? Our own and all of ours together. Freefalling into the unknown brings us to community. It enlivens our creativity. It invites us to support and hold each other exactly where we are. It is all we have and it is everything.  

Janna Diamond is a movement builder and activist focused on embodied healing for social change.  Janna works at HIAS, the Jewish organization for refugees.  

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