--written by Christine Fry (October 19, 2004)
You’ve asked me to tell you of the Great Turning*,
of how we saved the world from disaster.
The answer is both simple and complex:
For hundreds of years we had turned
away as life on earth grew more precarious.
We turned away from the homeless men on the streets,
the stench from the river,
the children orphaned in Iraq,
the mothers dying of AIDS in Africa.
We turned away because that is what we had been taught.
To turn away, from the pain, from the hurt in another’s eyes, from the
drunken father or the friend betrayed. Always we were told, in actions
louder than words, to turn away, turn away. And so we became a lonely
people caught up in a world moving too quickly, too mindlessly toward
its own demise.
Until it seemed as if there was no safe place to turn. No place, inside
or out, that did not remind us of fear or terror, despair and loss,
anger and grief.
Yet on one of those days someone did turn.
Turned to face the pain.
Turned to face the stranger.
Turned to look at the smoldering world
and the hatred seething in too many eyes.
Turned to face himself, herself.
And then another turned.
And another. And another.
And as they wept, they took
each other’s hands.
Until whole groups of people were turning.
Young and old, gay and straight. People
of all colors, all nations, all religions.
Turning not only to the pain and hurt
but to the beauty, gratitude and love.
Turning to one another with
forgiveness and a longing
for peace in their hearts.
At first the turning made people dizzy, even silly. There were people
standing to the side gawking, criticizing, trying to knock the turners down.
But the people turning kept getting up, kept helping one another to their feet. Their
Laughter and kindness brought others into the turning circle until even the naysayers began to smile and sway.
As the people turned, they began to spin, reweaving the web of life,
mending the shocking tears, knitting it back together with the colors
of the earth, sewing on tiny mirrors so the beauty of each person, each
creature, each plant, each life form might be seen and respected.
And as the people turned, as they spun
like the earth through the universe, the web wrapped around them like a
soft baby blanket, making it clear all were loved, nothing separate.
As this love reached into every crack and crevice, the people began to
wake and wonder, to breathe and give thanks, to work and celebrate together.
And so the world was saved, but only as long as you, too, sweet one, remember to turn.
*Thanks to Joanna Macy, American Buddhist activist and a beloved teacher, for this phrase.