Becoming an Earth Monk

Earth Monk watercolor by Liza Hyatt

I haven’t been active on the is blog for several months because I have been writing chapters of a book whose working title is The Dark Night of the Earth and the Earth Monk’s Vigil. I am now ready to share here what my writing and research are enlivening for me.

Like many people, over the course of the past few years, I have felt growing despair for what is happening on our Earth and to our Earth. I feel a deep need to be with others who feel the same despair – and the hope that humanity can mature through the dark times ahead and learn to live more compassionately with each other and with reverence and caring for our local ecosystems and the planet as a whole.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to The Dark Night of the Earth and the Earth Monk’s Vigil:

  As a young woman, I hoped that our collective transition away from the Earth-destroying culture we currently inhabit and participate in, toward new, sustainable, more just and compassionate systems, would be completed in my lifetime, with a relatively brief and collectively chosen period of transformation. Now, I grieve for how we are only just entering what must be an extremely complex, dark, painful, disordering, chaotic, conflict-filled, multi-generational liminal expanse, from which a radically altered, profoundly humbled human culture might emerge –  into a very different kind of rebirth than the world-conquering Renaissance of the past – if we don’t render Earth uninhabitable along the way.  

     Now, as a woman entering my crone stage of life, I am starting to see that I will live my elder decades as a participant within a time of global descent into disorder and confusion, revealing that what we have lived through in recent years has been merely the beginning ripples, the early distant rumblings of the much larger storm of change, struggle and painful psychological and spiritual initiation necessary to make us surrender our old familiar ego-centric cultural systems. The transformation that we must undergo will be humiliating in the truest, root sense of the word – a process in which we are brought low, back down into the earth, into the humus nature of being human, a return of Adam to adama –  the clay, the earth to which we belong and must be real stewards of.  Initiation, the soul’s process of ripening us, is humiliation of the ego, rendering us more in service of community and of the needs of soul. Only through such an initiation will humanity learn again to live in relationship with earth and each other. I do not expect this human-humus initiation to be completed in my daughter or granddaughter’s lifetime. Perhaps my great-grandchildren, and even more fully, my great-great grandchildren will be born in a truly Earth-stewarding culture.

     At the same time as I’ve been stripped of my younger naïveté, which hoped for an easier transition and an easier era in which to live the second half of my life, my soul life and spiritual love has grown and deepened. This is a love that encompasses the whole Earth, humanity, and the sacred web of interconnected relationships within which we are woven. The spiritual formation through which this love has expanded gives me strength, courage, groundedness, and personal commitment to living as one engaged within present and future suffering, complex and scary as it will be. I want to be as present as I can, in deep relationships with people around me, witnessing and staying awake, keeping vigil throughout what is to come – the collective dark night of both the human soul and the planet itself. 

     The state of being in vigil is a state of being liminal. Of opening to silence, unknowing and darkness. Of suffering and lamenting and witnessing the pain within our depths. Of meeting our own demons, which we created in fruitless effort to be in control. Of surrendering to waiting in prayer dark for dawn.  

      More than anything, the Earth needs us to enter this state of vigil. To stop doing what we have been doing, to surrender our being in control, to face the demonic mess we have made of things, to meet the trauma we have inflicted and carry within us. To grieve, soften, and acknowledge the collective pain in which we live. And to wait, learning to listen to nature itself for what will heal us, and for the real work that is needed of us.

     To grow capable of such vigil, we need to learn to be more patient within the liminal. We must be willing to become monks – Earth Monks born from the spiritual and communal needs of our era, committed to living in service of healing the collective trauma of humanity and our planet. 

I hope this post finds its way to many others who are also called to become Earth Monks. In the coming year, I will continue to post excerpts from my book project, including suggestions of practices to help us unlearn the conditioned behaviors of Western society and its colonizing and consumerism. One of the key wounds to our soul-life in this society is the impairment of imagination, without which we cannot experience the world as alive and sacred. Therefore many of my upcoming posts will be about ways to heal our relationship with the imagination, first through the primary imagination that we encounter in our dreams, and later through the secondary imagination found in contemplative art making practices.

Explore posts in the same categories: dreams, eco-spirituality, embodied spirituality, liminal space, new monansticism, Uncategorized

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