Grief, Have I Denied You? by Carol P. Christ


I have never had so much trouble trying to find a topic for blog and to begin writing it as I have this time. It is 6:58 am in Greece, three hours and two minutes before my blog is due to be posted, and I still do not have a topic. It is not that topics have not occurred to me. There is the rape allegation against Donald Trump by E. Jean Carroll. There is the fact that it was ignored by the press—as if it somehow does not matter that the President of the US is or might be a rapist. There is the declaration by Kamala Harris that if elected President she would move to immediately process hundreds of thousands of unprocessed rape kits. There are the new reports of the horrendous conditions in which children, women, and men are being kept in detention at the US border. And this morning there is the President’s racist rant against progressive congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts.

There are plenty of topics out there but somehow this weekend it seems futile to write about any of them. I feel like whatever I say won’t matter because people just don’t care about any of it. We know that close to 40% of Americans will accept anything that Trump says or does. I know these people. Some of them are in my own family. But why did The New York Times and most of the liberal and progressive talk show hosts ignore E. Jean Carroll? And why are the Democrats in the House not moving more boldly to impeach Trump? Why do they keep saying they need more evidence when the evidence is overwhelming as former law teacher and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said as soon as she finished reading Mueller’s report?

All of these are reasons for not being able to find a topic. Still, there is something else.

It is the UN report that came out at the beginning of May stating that one million species face extinction in the near future due to human degradation of the world in which they live. One of those species is of course ourselves, but our extinction will not be as immediate as those of the whales and dolphins that are washing up on our beaches in great numbers this summer. Not as soon as the end of the giraffes and the tigers. And if bees go extinct the rest of us—human and other than human—are surely doomed.

I have not been optimistic about the future of the world and its species for a very long time. But somehow I have been able to put my pessimism on the back burner while continuing to hope that somehow the world can be saved and continuing to do what I can to save it.

One million species facing extinction. One-third of Greece in danger of becoming a desert. Paris France recording a temperature of 45.9 degrees this June.

So much has already been lost. So much more will soon be lost. My heart is overcome with grief. I should be wailing and mourning in the streets. Instead I push my grief aside. I am afraid that if I give into it, I will never stop crying. So much has already been lost. So much more will be lost every day of our precious lives. I am afraid. I am afraid I cannot bear it.

When I awoke early this morning it was already hot and humid. The rains have come. Will tears follow?

*The title of this blog is inspired by Denise Levertov’s “Grief, have I denied thee?”

 

Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator currently living in Pachia Ammos, Crete. Carol’s recent book written with Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology, is on Amazon. A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess is on sale for $9.99 on Amazon. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.

Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions.

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Categories: Climate Change, Earth-based spirituality, environment, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, General

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16 replies

  1. I hear you Carol … I have been crying today, and it is mostly for the reasons you speak; and it impacts on the sense of any value to personal contribution. It is the season of Imbolc here, and the Poetry calls for the celebration of each unique being, emerging ever new. It is more of a challenge than ever, and we must grieve for all that is lost, including ourselves. Yet perhaps there is more in the compost, if we can bear it. I remember those who endure so much more.
    In circle with you beyond the bounds of time and space
    Glenys

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Carol, forgive me but it is almost a relief to hear you express the grief that is so immense, so heartbreaking, so overwhelming that it eclipses any shred of hope i have ever felt. Maybe it’s time, we just suffered WHAT IS without the brutal ‘positivity’ that inevitably follows any expression of this personal and collective sorrow. Maybe it’s time to FEEL the hopelessness? If ever I experienced my life in spiritual crisis it is now. Somehow, I don’t think I am the only one.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes, this sentence resonated with me: “I feel like whatever I say won’t matter because people just don’t care about any of it. We know that close to 40% of Americans will accept anything that Trump says or does. I know these people. Some of them are in my own family.” I know these people as well.

    Recently a FB “friend” posted a picture of U.S. troops in what looked liked an army barracks. Their cots were in rows with little room between although they each had a huge duffel bag with supplies at the ready. The meme read: “This is how our military sleeps so I really don’t care about illegals being overcrowded in detention centers.”

    This meme is easy to refute rationally; however, rational arguments are not effective in shedding light on the problem. One of the pieces to this “I don’t care” puzzle perhaps stems from the emphasis that we (Western society especially) puts on “scientific, rational thought” at the expense of educating our hearts and spirits. Educating those aspects of ourselves other than our intellect don’t have instant, formulaic answers. Educating our hearts requires time in thought and contemplation–two things in short supply.

    Liked by 7 people

  4. Carol, you speak my heart and the heart of so many. While looking up Denise Levertov’s poem I found this post, Drinking the Tears of the World: Grief as Deep Activism by Francis Weller. I would include the URL, but know that posting same in comments is problematic. I am also reading E. Jean Carroll’s memoir What Do We Need Men For: a Modest Proposal. It is as hilarious as it is scathing.

    Thank you for giving voice to this grief, how immense it is, how hard to wake up and choose one focus, construct a sentence, take the right next step, loose the ocean of tears.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ohhhhh, good! I’m not the only one who’s depressed almost beyond words. Well, actually, that may sound sorta funny at first glance, but any intelligent woman (OK–person) knows it’s a statement of truth that four people who read your post before I did confirmed and those 13 other people who did not comment also nodded as they read and clicked on “like.” What’s to do? I wish we could shoot the Abuser-in-Chief and his family into outer space. Does it help to sign online petitions and contribute to Act Blue? We can all vote in primaries and in the general election.

    Yes, thanks for voicing the grief so many of us share.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for naming what I am feeling. There is a thin line between hope and despair and I am so close to sinking into despair that he continues to do what the wants with no consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How I resist opening myself to the grief you so aptly describe! I dare not for I fear it would take away my will to live. Instead, it is a faith stance that I choose to believe – however irrational it may seem – the power of Love is greater than the obvious evil all around us. I choose to have hope because there are multitudes of people whose eyes and hearts and minds are open and who are ready and are already acting in ways that lead us toward solutions. I choose to focus on the beauty around me in both nature and friendships to counter the ugliness of humanity. It is the only way for me to “keep on keepin’ on” in the midst of this mess. For some of us it is helpful to remember that this is not about politics. It is about principalities and powers. It is the spiritual tug of war between good and evil, between the feminine mode of corporate nurturance and cooperation and the individualistic model of competition and aggressive domination the latter of course is what has brought us to the brink of genocide. Let us keep reminding ourselves there is another way of being in the world – it is spirit and it is unapologetically feminine. (the feminine in all of us, not just those who identify as women.) We DO know the way, a better way of being in the world and of being in community and it leads to not just survival but flourishing. I refuse to give in to the overwhelming crush of grief – tho I make no judgment of those who find themselves there. While I am still breathing I shall speak Her name and speak my truth.

    And, it is worth noting that some of this I have learned from you, Carol, and others on this list!l Blessed Be!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We are all tired. Very tired. And empty. We realize Trump probably could shoot someone down in cold blood and he’d tweet it was fake news and his base would believe him and we’d all just move on because the corporate media is not doing its job as the fourth estate protecting democracy…..We are all numb, bewildered, frustrated, angry, gob-smacked. However, let me say, as hard as this all is to endure, as tempting as it is to feel hopeless, this transparency of corruption on both sides of the aisle – from the corporate Democrats who want us to accept crumbs of incremental change when we’re way past that being enough to the hypocritical and soul-less Rethuglicans – this is exactly what we need to see and feel to wake up those who have been asleep. This is humanity’s test. We have been on the tip of sword for a very long time and we either wake up and choose evolution on election day in 2020 and begin a new world or we don’t and suffer the consequences. I still believe Trump, as deplorable as he is, may ultimately be what helped us steer the ship in another direction. He is the poster child for everything wrong in the world. Patriarchy, greed, racism, homophobia, sexism and all the rest. Seeing it everyday so blatantly does not let us continue to wear blinders. Let us keep up the fight. Our pens and voices are mighty. Let those of us who have remained silent or neutral step up as priestesses, leaders, way-showers and find our backbones and reconcile our spirituality and politics!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you Carol, and thank you Karen Tate for your response…even though I can see no love in the public sphere on most days, I will never stop believing in its power and using it for the common good…I remember the American history of 1776 and the Indigenous peoples of the Americas: they didn’t give up and neither will I, to my last breath, I will write the good fight. They re-built their communities and, for one example, the Mohegan Nation in Connecticut is one of the most vital, flourishing Native American nations on Turtle Island today…let’s remember their courage and long-sightedness. They already lost and re-gained more than any of us can fathom–just like women in general have lost over the eons and (still try) to regain around this world. We MUST keep the faith! Think of Barbara Ardinger’s vision of the Goddess when she was in hospital…the Goddess is beside all of us right now, encouraging!!! We must do honor to Her!

      Liked by 2 people

    • …”as tempting as it is to feel hopeless” really???? I know that I have not been tempted by hopelessness but driven into it by reality. I have done everything I could to stay out of this pit, and finally had to face it – WHAT IS is beyond my comprehension. The despair I feel is grounded in “reality” – certainly not a reality I would choose.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. This post seems to start from a place of silence, a kind of freezing in the facing of disaster. BUT — it speaks volumes. It has been nearly 3 years since the fateful morning after election 2016. I saw your post on FB that morning, Carol, that said NO-O-O-O-O-O!!!!!! A NO that seems to echo in our hearts as we awake each day to new attacks on the planetary atmosphere, wildlife, essential elements of water, air, and soil, women’s autonomy, migrants, and minorities.

    Clearly, saying NO is not enough, as the world needs leaders, movements, and institutions that stand up for all of us. None of us can swing the pendulum back to honesty, integrity, respect, pluralism, democratic values, and love for the natural world, on our own. We are on this journey together as a species.

    I have watched as divisions grew and I have joined others in efforts to bring to the fore values of relationship, collaboration, love of life, and compassion for the vulnerable. My hope today comes from this work and knowing that there are so very many people on this planet whose beautiful souls fill the cosmos with energies of love, compassion, and selfless action.

    For me, the only way forward is to join in a global effort to save our planet and democratic values of government for, of, and by the people – finding common ground with women, men, LGBTQI, democrats, republicans, and independents, elderly, young, and middle aged – with all people of all nations.

    It is common knowledge that children and dogs cause themselves harm unintentionally. Dogs run into the street and are run over and killed; they eat things that may kill them. Are human adults really any smarter? As a species, our time seems to be running out. Due to our numbers on this planet, this situation is a collective problem and only together can we find effective solutions.

    I really wonder whether we may be too stupid as a species to change direction. I wonder what intelligent aliens would think of us! Each human lifetime is short and limited. Each person has only so much time to contribute to the efforts needed to learn, understand, and act with discernment in the face of our collective circumstances. I know and grieve knowing that we may face extinction in this generation or the next.

    I am reminded of a disaster film I once saw that ended with a daughter and father standing calming before a massive tidal wave that they knew would bring total destruction. And I wonder how and where I want to stand in the face of what is happening now.

    No I don’t want to see our extinction and the massive deaths that will occur if it happens. But whatever comes has to be faced with awareness rather than denial. I think it is possible to enjoy each moment, to look out at the blue sky and the blue ocean and the green trees and the flowers and animals and the faces of caring friends and loved ones, even if and when we know that we face massive destruction from climate change, earthquakes, and wars. This is possible if we do not give into anxiety and fear.

    Grief comes in waves. We must grieve in order to stay in awareness rather than sinking into selfishness and apathy. Grief is painful awareness of our own and others’ suffering. What a joyful truth! Because it means we are not alone and we don’t leave others alone in their pain.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. We have become insulated by Human Privilege, as well as, for many of us here, White Privilege. Nature and life are NOT sentimental. Neither are the power-hungry, that is their strategic advantage.

    But just like humans in all times previous to our current industrialized society, just like everyone now who has to carry on from one hour to the next in war-destroyed places like Syria, Yemen, and countless others, and just like every other life form on the planet ever, we compassionate humans have to continue to put one foot in front of the other despite how daunting or impossible it suddenly appears.

    That is the only way on this planet. Research has shown humans are innately empathetic until it is socialized out of them. We are, and can continue to be, the majority — but only if we persist. This is not about being optimistic, it is about survival. If your work feels meaningless, maybe it has become so at this dire moment. There is so much waiting to be done. And when grief and fear overwhelms, find a tree to sit under, or even a tiny square of bare earth to sit on. Let your body recharge, without the mind involved.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. There is a long-nascent movement to make Ecocide an international crime and thus have legal grounds to hold corporations and despots responsible. They have several ways to add momentum, from anywhere in the world. https://www.stopecocide.earth/
    If the link doesn’t appear, go to stopecocide-dot-earth

    Liked by 3 people

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