“beyond hope and despair is clarity”
– Margaret Wheatley
“the heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe”
– Joanna Macy
finding resilience by falling apart
communal gatherings at the crossroad of hope and despair
As you meet face-to-face with the suffering of our times – global pandemic, social injustice, family separation, cruel social and political realities, climate crisis – what is it that you feel grateful for and what breaks your heart?
metabolizing grief is a year long project integrating the Work that Reconnects (WTR) by Joanna Macy and expressive arts therapy practices to create mutual support spaces for social healing and empowerment in Hong Kong. We will host 24 bi-weekly communal gatherings throughout the year of 2021 to honour our despair collectively.
In the making of social transformation, our pain and grief for the world are often repressed, devalued or ignored. The culture that we live in pathologizes feelings of grief. Society expects us to hide our emotional pain and hopelessness. “Either go find a therapist or get over it!” But our pain and grief for the world is the intelligent part of the healing mechanism, waking us to pay attention to the part of the body that needs healing. What if the pain you are feeling is not only yours, but is the earth collective crying out through you? You feel anger, fear and grief because you care deeply.
Deep ecologist Joanna Macy shows us that if change makers choose to come together in gratitude and in pain, we have the capacity to be with the pain of others and the pain of the world. Practising to be unafraid of grief and despair and creating spaces where we listen to them allow us to be stronger in solidarity. It is by “metabolizing” our pain for the world, we help each other to not get paralyzed but find resilience to move forward.
when does it happen? Starting in January 2021, the 24 gatherings will take place on the “twenty four solar terms” according to the ancient Chinese lunar calendar. “Twenty four solar terms” indicates seasonal changes, best agricultural practices and wellness tips based on the sun’s position in the ecliptic throughout the year. We choose to gather on these solar terms to remind ourselves that we’re deeply connected to the nature cycle of life, change and death, and that we as humans are also seasonal beings belonging to the web of all beings.
These bi-weekly gatherings will be held online and in person, with 6-8 online grief ritual drop-in sessions for up to 75 people; and 16-18 small support group sessions for 10-15 people to continue regular WTR practices. Some small support group sessions will be in person when covid-related social distancing measures allow.
what happens at the gatherings? Participatory ritual and group exercises inspired by the Spiral of the Great Turning, a group process rooted in Joanna Macy’s WTR model. The Spiral includes 4 stages: gratitude, honouring our pain for the world, seeing with new and ancient eyes, and going forth. At each gathering there will be a small session where participants interact in pairs or small groups in verbal and nonverbal formats.
each gathering will be 2 to 2.5 hours (exact time TBA) on the following “solar terms”:
Start of Spring 3 Feb
Rain water 18 Feb
Spring shower 5 Mar
Incest awaken 20 Mar
Vernal equinox 4 Apr
Bright and clear 20 Apr
Summer commences 5 May
Corn forms 21 May
Corn on ear 5 Jun
Summer solstice 21 Jun
Moderate heat 7 Jul
Great heat 22 Jul
Autumn commences 7 Aug
End of heat 23 Aug
White dew 7 Sep
Autumnal equinox 23 Sep
Cold dew 8 Oct
Frost 23 Oct
Winter commences 7 Nov
Light snow 22 Nov
Heavy snow 7 Dec
Winter solstice 21 Dec