restoring imagination

[As the possibilities of “post-pandemic life” slowly emerge, this excerpt from Shelly Rambo’s insightful theology of trauma seem applicable. How do we restore “embodied practices of imagination” at this time?]

The practices of sensing life are embodied practices of imagination. When Bessel van der Kolk speaks about the path of trauma healing, he says a primary bodily connection to the world needs to be restored. In the course of his research he has discovered that, of all capacities lost in the experience of trauma, the loss of imagination is perhaps the most devastating. For trauma healing to happen, the capacity to imagine one’s life beyond a radical ending, to imagine life anew, must be restored. “The degree to which we are successful, as clinicians, is the degree to which we can restore these capacities of delight, hope, and imagination,” he says. Restoring the sense of trust and meaning is not purely cognitive; it involves instead a different sense of the world. Sensing life is this kind of reconnecting process; it is an exercise of imagination in the face of what is unimaginable.

This second movement of Spirit witnesses a process of coming into life, of sensing it again. The Spirit’s witness, here, is to forms of life that are less discernible, more inchoate and tenuous, than visible and secure.

  • Shelly Rambo, Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining (2010, p.162)

solitude and community

[As we start to imagine and then experience an emerging “post-pandemic world,” we’ll all be renegotiating our relational lives. Perhaps this word from Parker Palmer will help]:

If we are to hold solitude and community together as a true paradox, we need to deepen our understanding of both poles. Soli­tude does not necessarily mean living apart from others; rather, it means never living apart from one’s self. It is not about the absence of other people-it is about being fully present to ourselves, whether or not we are with others. Community does not necessar­ily mean living face-to-face with others; rather, it means never los­ing the awareness that we are connected to each other. It is not about the presence of other people-it is about being fully open to the reality of relationship, whether or not we are alone.

– Parker Palmer, from A Hidden Wholeness

decolonizing your garden

In March we were overcome by so many seed orders that we even had to shut down for a while in order to get them out to those who ordered them. Based on our experience, I’d say that people are planting right now at ten times the rate they were two years ago. Maybe it’s because of the pandemic. Maybe because society is finally starting to realize that we are better off growing our own food. Maybe it’s just part of a decolonizing process. I think it’s a good sign though. Planting is one way people can get back in touch with Mother Earth and understand the reciprocal relationship we have with plants.

I hope that people will come to know the need of loving the seeds, especially now in a time of global pandemic and uneasiness that we are experiencing from the Earth because of colonial foolishness. We look to the seeds to sustain our future.

learning is the thing

[On top of the pandemic and any personal reasons that you might have for feeling sadness, there has recently been deep grief about the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC (and the awareness that there are many more of these discoveries ahead). In response to sadness, one choice is learning…]:

The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies. You may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins. You may miss your only love. You may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it, then: To learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.

  • T. H. White, The Once and Future King

the weight of pretending pure

[An excerpt, a conversation, from a novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates about memory, connection and the heart of the Underground (Railroad)]:

“We can’t ever have nothing pure,” Robert said. “It’s always out of sorts. Them stories with their knights and maidens, none of that for us. We don’t get it pure. We don’t get nothing clean.”

“Yeah,” I said. “But neither do they. It is quite a thing, a messy dirty thing, to put your own son, your own daughter, to the Task.* Way I see it, ain’t no pure and it is we who are blessed, for we know this.”

” Blessed, huh?”

“Blessed, for we do not bear the weight of pretending pure. I will say that it has taken some time for me to get to that. Had to lose some folk and truly understand what that loss mean. But having been down, and having seen my share of those who are up, I tell you, Robert Ross, I would live down here among my losses, among the muck and mess of it, before I would ever live among those who are in their own kind of muck, but are so blinded by it they fancy it pure. Ain’t no pure, Robert. Ain’t no clean.”

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Water Dancer

*Refers to owners who gave their own children, born to enslaved mothers, into slavery.