By Merry Hall with Burl Hall
The internet is a wonder of human technology. It is connecting you, the reader, to me, the writer, right here, right now. When Burl and I record and transmit our weekly episode of ENVISION THIS on Blog Talk Radio, the internet connects us and our visionary guests to hundreds--in some cases thousands--of listeners. We know you "hear" us, because we check the listener numbers online daily. The internet preserves or "archives" our message in virtual time for you to receive at your convenience. A click of your mouse virtually brings our voices to life for you. Wow!
But do you REALLY hear us? Does hearing translate into heeding? Or, as Simon and Garfunkel sang back in the sixties, are people "listening without hearing"? Are we touching your hearts and hands? Are you incorporating what we write and say into your daily doings and beings in your own unique way? Are we making the leap from virtual to incarnate? That is the crux of the matter.
Let me tell you a true story I participated in recently. I was at the Common Ground Fair, an in-gathering of Maine's local food community. On my way to work at the Food for Maine's Future table in the Social Action tent, I ran across a fellow activist, Jane Livingston, working at the Cooperative Business table. I've known Jane for six years, since she organized and ran "Maine Feeds Maine" and thereafter became one of the people I profiled for my book, Bringing Food Home: The Maine Example .
Briefly, I shared with her the news that Burl was freer to work as an activist for the time being, because he had lost his salaried corporate job, asked to resign because of the memory lapses brought on by early onset Alzheimers. Jane "heard" me on a deeper, human level and reached out to touch my arm with her compassionate hand. I, however, did not "feel" her touch until I was safely home in bed that night. Then I could let her touch my heart. Only by email--via the internet--could I respond:
I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your reaching out to me with a compassionate touch Saturday, even if I didn't let it show at the time. I'm just waking up to the fact that I'm not as openly receptive to this sort of affirmation as I imagined myself to be.
Jane wrote back:
The "hand hugs" are for Burl too so pass them on! I hear you about receiving compassionate touch; my years in 12 step recovery helped me a lot, and re-evaluation co-counseling pushed me down the road, but let's face it, we're a society that puts babies in cages in dark rooms alone and sends toddlers off to prep schools, gazounds! No wonder the rich are so fogged up. The unibomber had a condition as an infant that led some damned doctor to demand he not be held for 6 months or something like that, maybe longer. his parents had to look at him through glass i think. Well no wonder he felt so alienated (in addition to being right about his general analysis of society, ergo his wish to be no part of it. "She who is sick of sickness is not sick" lao tzu)!!!!
xo x2 j
Jane "gets it." She expresses here how and why real human communication, the kind we take to heart and put into action, is becoming even more difficult in the alienated virtual world our culture immerses us in.
It took the miracle of creation for God/Nature/Fate--whatever name you give him/her/it--to make this leap from virtual (existing in Truth, in heavenly potential) to incarnate (existing on Earth, in time and space). It took Love on a grand scale. It will take another miracle of evolution for Us, Humanity, to make the leap from destroyers of nature to co-creators with Nature of a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable world. This is the leap we urgently need to make. It is the leap Burl and I and many others are intending to help more and more people make by helping folks to "envision this."
The question remains "Do you hear us?" Not just with your ears; checking our listener numbers online at http://blogtalkradio.com/envision-this tells us that. But also with your hearts and hands. Are we making a true change in how you are and what you do in this world? That may be something we never know, except when you reach out and touch us with your responses. And that's okay. As Burl says, we may have planted a seed which will lie dormant in your heart-life until some later date when you shine your light upon it, water it, and nurture its fulfillment. So-Be-It.
We cannot regenerate the world alone. I learned that truth the hard (though also funny) way in another story I want to share with you now. Burl and I were at a workshop run by Carolyn Baker, author of Navigating the Coming Chaos. Carolyn is a wonderful teacher whom we will be introducing listeners to in October. After sharing many inspiring stories and insights, she sent us individually outdoors to commune with nature. Full of myself and my increasing insight, physical strength, and health, I set out down a steep slope to the lake our venue overlooked. Newly slim and fit--so I thought--I crawled under the platform of a wharf to be in the womb of the world and imbibe the holy spirits of the lake. Trouble is, I tottered and fell headlong on the steep shoreline and landed with my hair dangling into the water. I wasn't strong enough to get back up by myself. I grabbed a nearby vine to try to pull myself up, but it broke. I tried to roll over and sit up. I couldn't, because I was wedged between a tree and a rock. Try as I might, I was overwhelmed by gravity and the downward pressure of my own weight.
Finally, I surrendered to the moment, looking up into the beauty of the sky. Only when I resigned myself to the natural powers-that-be and took off my persona of independent power, did I become humble enough to call out for help. Burl heard me, responded, and helped pull me out of this ludicrous but all too real position, so I could climb, muddy and bruised, back up to rejoin the group Carolyn was facilitating.
That, of course, was Nature's great lesson to me that day. We need one another. Regenerating the Earth is a cooperative group effort. We must co-create a better future hand-in-hand with Nature and with each other, or She will go on her inexorable way without us, despite our resistance and interference. Which will it be? Humankind is now calling out "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up." Will you, like Jane and Burl, reach out a helping/healing hand? Only you--both the individual you and the collective You--can answer that question.
Carolyn Baker, Navigating the Coming Chaos
Meredith Hall, Bringing Food Home: The Maine Example
Envision This!: http://blogtalkradio.com/envision-this