wholife logo
Wholeness & Wellness Journal
of Saskatchewan Since 1995
  Home | Events | Classifieds | Directory | Profiles | Archives | Subscribe | Advertise | Distribution | Our Readers | Contact


Volume 11 Issue 3
Sept/October 2005

Slow Food: Take Time to Savour the Flavour
International Slow Food® Movement

Cookin' With Kale!

Reflexology in the New Millennium

Why is Peace So Elusive?

Renewing the Sacred Balance;
Transforming and Healing the Whole Earth Community


Renewing the Sacred Balance:
Transforming and Healing the Whole Earth Community

by Rachel MacDonald
Laura Burkhart

In a warm circle on a Wednesday night, fifteen people rise from their tea and join hands, swaying and stepping silently to quiet Latvian music. At a break in the song, voices call out the names of people and places in need of healing, including Novozybkov, the forest village where the Elm Dance is still done to remember the forest, land, air, and people contaminated by the fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

When the music stops we stand there, breathing. Finally, facilitator Ruth Blaser breaks the silence, “Look how these people don’t want to leave,” she laughs.

And, it’s true! In the eight weeks of this transformational course, “Engaging in Spiritual Practices to Renew the Sacred Balance”, we have moved from a group of strangers to a community, ready to nurture the love needed to bring the world around to healing. Week by week we have grown in gratitude, awareness, and hope, and we have reached our goal of “strengthening our intention to participate in the healing of our world”.

As a person involved in the justice and environmental movements, I was impressed by the power of the workshop’s process. Each participant developed a practical project to keep this work going, made vows to continue and support each other, and each has seen a change in her/his personal life.

The key, I think, lies in the motivation for change, woven into the four spiritual practices of the workshops. Instead of anger or fear, the motivation is love for all beings, based on an experience of our deep interdependence as creatures of the Earth.

This workshop series is part of “Renewing the Sacred Balance”, the most recent campaign of Faith and the Common Good (F-CG). F-CG is a Canadian multi-faith network, directed toward engaging citizens and building citizen movements for environmental education and action. Working in partnership with David Suzuki’s “Nature Challenge”, F-CG’s latest campaign encourages people of faith to draw on ancient spiritual traditions to bring them into right relationship with the whole Earth community. As explained on the F-CG website (see below), “We need to be motivated by love, by beauty, by a sense of the sacred,” and therefore, “spirituality … must be at the heart of the great process of transformation that lies ahead”.

The series in Regina is based on the work of Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, and the four spiritual practices found in their book, Coming Back to Life.

“ Grounding in Gratitude” is the first practice and is foundational to the rest. Here we explored the web of breath that keeps us alive; we recognized in each other’s eyes the courage we offer each other in living in this time; and we paid attention to the goodness in our body’s environment.

Thus grounded in the soil of gratitude, we moved forward to the next step to face “Grieving for the Pain of the World.” Using a sacred ritual known as the Truth Mandala, we expressed our anger, fears, emptiness, and despair, one-by-one, speaking out our pain on behalf of the Earth community. The circle of strength we formed with our bodies held us in a place of hope so that the pain would not become too much. Like our breathing, we went into, and came out of, the Truth Mandala.

As difficult as this work was, it is very important. As Joanna Macy says, “The greatest barrier to the Great Turning is … the deadening of our response.” We must not become numb to others’ pain, or even consider pain to be private or individual. The creation is a whole. When a child is hurt, or a forest rendered radioactive, the creation is hurt and rendered radioactive. When we deny our interdependence we shut ourselves off to our own pain and our own needs. Thus desensitized, we make ourselves helpless.

“ Seeing with New Eyes” was the next step. We began with the most positive and hope-filled document I’ve ever seen: The Earth Charter! This multi-national agreement represents humanity’s highest hopes for the community of our planet. Its principles of respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, democracy, nonviolence, and peace have been endorsed by thousands of non-governmental organisations, towns, and cities throughout the world, who are working to implement these principles. Non-governmental organisations from 52 countries spent ten years developing the Earth Charter and it remains a vision of the Sacred Balance renewed.

Moving forward into David Suzuki’s “Nature Challenge”, we saw parts of the Earth Charter put into practice. Taking the “Challenge” involves choosing three ways in which we personally will reduce our impact on the Earth. Apart from a personal pledge, the “Nature Challenge” serves as proof that Canadians and others care about the health of their habitat and are willing to change their lives to protect it.

Finally, it was time for “Going Forth”. After the nurturing rhythm of weekly song, breathing, dance, and togetherness, we needed to prepare a way to maintain our goals and learnings when we left the community we had created. Individually reflecting on our highest desire for the Earth, we presented plans for practical projects toward those goals. In small groups we helped each other refine our ideas and offered support and resources, trusting in the wise oneness of the universe to bring healing through these projects.

Please join us in our work for the healing of the whole Earth community. Be aware of our oneness and don’t rush. In the words of a Taoist saying, “We have so little time; we must go slowly,” to renew the Sacred Balance.

“ Engaging Spiritual Practices to Renew the Sacred Balance” course is being offered in Regina through Faith and the Common Good and facilitated by Ruth Blaser. It is an eight-week course, Oct. 18 to Dec. 6, 7:00 pm–9:00 pm, cost $80, location TBA. For more information visit www.faith-commongood.net or contact Ruth Blaser at (306) 546-5585, email: blaser&associates@accesscomm.ca.

Rachel MacDonald, of Regina, is an educator and artist who has recently participated in “Engaging in Spiritual Practices to Renew the Sacred Balance” course in Regina and has written the above article to share her experiences with others.

Back to top

Home | Events | Classifieds | Directory | Profiles | Archives | Subscribe | Advertise
Distribution | From Our Readers | About WHOLifE Journal | Contact Us | Terms Of Use | Privacy Policy

Copyright © 2000-2020 - Wholife Journal. All Rights Reserved.