Monthly conversation experiment #4

Refuge and renewal

Posted 9/9/20

It is a troubled time. It is a time of chaos.

We are a divided people and anything that is said can become the source of a new conflict. We are in a shifting, changing world: a storm of political, …

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Monthly conversation experiment #4

Refuge and renewal


It is a troubled time. It is a time of chaos.

We are a divided people and anything that is said can become the source of a new conflict. We are in a shifting, changing world: a storm of political, ecological and emotional crisis. As the social fabric unravels each day, the tapestry that we used to call reality becomes further shredded until everything seems to be barely hanging by a thread.

And thus is born September’s Monthly Conversation Experiment prompt: Hanging on by a thread, finding refuge and renewal.

How do you deal with the changing environment? How do you find and maintain meaning when the events of the day are upsetting? This chaotic and troubled time affects us all, no matter where you are on the political spectrum.

We invite you to send us your reflection, poetry, or any other creative expression on the theme of refuge and renewal.

You may want to reflect on September as Suicide Awareness Month. You may want to write about your family, your pet, a habit or practice that supports you when there seems to be nothing but havoc all around. Perhaps you find refuge and renewal in your favorite sports team, your love of cooking, fishing or hunting.

We ask you to tell your story from your perspective, without categorizing or complaining about others. We hope, through diverse voices, to hear about our humanity. Please send your submissions to by September 27 at noon.

For my own understanding of this turbulent time, I recently discovered the work of Micheal Meade, a renowned storyteller, author and scholar of mythology, anthropology and psychology. According to Meade, if we are to deal with this psychologically, we must accept the trouble we find ourselves in. At the same time, we must undergo an expansion of self that gives us, both individually and collectively, a deeper sense of our capacity to change our lives while in the midst of adversity. He says that we must also look to the stories of peoples before us to find our way through chaos to renewal.

Meade explains that in ancient mythological stories, there are three layers of life. The first layer is the daily world with its normal patterns and expected conventions. Today, we find ourselves with the first layer broken, in that our social structures are no longer reliable.

It is then that the second layer breaks through and pours all kinds of energies into the broken first layer.

The second layer is the broken ground where people experience abandonment, abuse and alienation. It is the place of betrayal—the haunts of fear and anxiety. It is the territory of hatreds, rages, resentments, jealousies and acts of revenge. It is the ground of racism, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, agism and cynicism, to name a few. It is a place where conspiracy theories arise. This second layer is also a place where ignorance is celebrated and all kinds of delusions are believed.

The third layer, though, is one of renewal and recreation. It is there that the energy in the apocalypse matches, and generally overcomes, the destructive forces.

The third layer is universal love and understanding. It is the place of genuine interconnectedness. It is the place of deep community and community ties where everyone belongs and has a place.

The third layer is the place of genuine refuge.

This third layer is the terrain of spontaneity and joy. It is the joy of having the gift of life. It is the landscape of inspiration, the place where big dreams arise. It is the realm of the ecstatic: the place where the great dance of life goes on and on, despite what is happening in the world of confusion and fear. And it is the place where opposites join in unity. It is the still point at the center where contemplation and reflection are guides. It is the place where everything can begin again.

It is the place of renewal.  Refuge. Recommitment.

This month we ask you to reflect on where you find that renewal, that recommitment, that refuge.


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