As I was looking for information about conflict resolution and transformation, I found the latest book of poems by our new poet laureate, Joy Harjo, “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems.”
I’m intrigued with the title of the following poem, “For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet.” The main reason I began writing on this blog several years ago was as a way for me to think through things, especially matters of the Spirit. Also because I felt there was a void to address people’s spiritual life in light of decreasing participation with organized religion, and hope some of these writings might be helpful. Actually , that is what the last line of the poem says we should all try to do.
This resonates with me because I’ve been led to believe we are in a time of great spiritual poverty, just when we are facing potentially existential threats. When our environment is being stressed as never before during the time of humans. When the resulting damages trigger more, often unexpected, destructive processes.
The root of our current woes stems from a decay of our values.
- It makes no sense to consume fossil fuels to the extent that we poison our living spaces; air, land and water. And yet fossil fuel consumption continues to increase.
- It makes no sense to allow corporations to profit from public land and water.
- It makes no sense to fight endless wars on terror, when we act as terrorists, and increase the number of people joining the terrorist groups.
- It makes no sense to squander billions of dollars on the military and deny small fractions of that money to actually address the desperate needs of millions struggling for basic necessities.
- It makes no sense to distribute the weapons of war to domestic police forces. And for the epidemic of the use of deadly force, including the killing of unarmed people.
The only way these abuses make any sense is from the view that everything and everyone is just a resource for corporate production and wealth of the shareholders.
The way to return to our values of love and care for one another and Mother Earth is to reject the power of corporations and their abuse of us and our environment. To do that we need to return to spiritual beliefs and practices. We can learn from the leadership of Indigenous peoples around the world who have always lived with environmental integrity and stewardship.
Those of us who live Spirit-led lives need to invite others to live this way. That is what the poem below is saying.
I’ve been pondering the image of calling the spirit back from wandering the Earth in its human feet. Religions usually have stories related to the Spirit being embodied by a human, to teach us how a person of God or the Spirit should live in this world. But the title of this poem suggests that each of us has a spirit that wanders the Earth. It also says we need to call the Spirit back. It is time to focus on spiritual ways of being, and teaching this to others.
“Then, you must do this: help the next person find their way through the dark.“
For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet (excerpts)
Do not hold regrets.
When you find your way to the circle, to the fire kept burning by the keepers of your soul, you will be welcomed.
You must clean yourself with cedar, sage, or other healing plant.
Cut the ties you have to failure and shame.
Let go the pain you are holding in your mind, your shoulders, your heart, all the way to your feet. Let go the pain of your ancestors to make way for those who are heading in our direction.
Ask for forgiveness.
Call upon the help of those who love you. These helpers take many forms: animal, element, bird, angel, saint, stone, or ancestor.
Call your spirit back. It may be caught in corners and creases of shame, judgment, and human abuse.
You must call in a way that your spirit will want to return. Speak to it as you would to a beloved child.
Welcome your spirit back from its wandering. It may return in pieces, in tatters. Gather them together. They will be happy to be found after being lost for so long.
Then, you must do this: help the next person find their way through the dark.Harjo, Joy. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems (pp. 5-6). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.