…So begins a chapter in Margaret Wheatley’s new book called “So Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World”(San Francisco, CA: Berret -Koehler Publishers, Inc, 2012). As someone who’s studied complex systems, quantum science and organizational change, she admits in this book that all that hopey changey stuff and our hard work for a world of compassion, community and ecological care seems to be losing ground in a world seemingly hell bent on global greed, consumerism, individualism, domination and nihilism. After 40 years of teaching transformative dynamics, she confesses losing her cheerful optimism somewhere along the way. With it has come a sort of dark night of the soul.
Looking around, she sees that she is not alone. Many are suffering this fearful disorientation and dislocation collectively in our culture. Some more violently than others.
The good news is that scientific chaos theory and even the spiritually classic “dark night of the soul” see this uncomfortable time as a fertile period before reemergence. All biological systems based on myriads of interconnected, entangled relationships (of which humans are a part of) are inherently complex. In order to re orient and adapt to new and unforeseen challenges, sometimes a complete breakdown must happen in order to reset things. Only then can something new be birthed, ready to create a brave new world. Sometimes unbeknownst to us, what we are working toward as a culture reaches a critical mass, and suddenly shift happens. She writes:
We need to feel despair that we cannot change the world. It is appropriate and essential that we do so. And we need to enter into the darkness, because it is the entry point for transformation. From my own experience with dark nights, I know that energy, strength and confidence become available the other side of despair. Having personally made this journey many times, abandoning my savior tendencies…can we have faith that capacity, strength and delight are available to us the other side of darkness? (35)
Recently I had an interesting experience when I went to check my feisty bee hives in the south valley. My plan was to quickly water them and race home, as we were leaving the next day for a trip to Canada. Well, sometimes things fall apart. And of course it’s usually happens exactly when you don’t have time for it.
Fiddling with the lock to the gate of the alfalfa field, I remember distinctly stuffing my car key in my pocket. Now if you know my beekeeping pants they are as full of holes as Swiss cheese. Of course they slipped out as I strode across the fragrant field.
Back at my car I hit the panic button. Not only was my husband out of town for the day, our house sitter was coming to meet me at home in half an hour. I felt suddenly lost and out of control on a day that I had had perfectly in hand and well organized up to that moment.
Like a petulant child I wanted to stamp my feet and say, “No this cannot happen to me now. Fix this.” I’m not sure whom I was addressing. I began to call friends to come and pick me up. In the end, it was the anonymous cat sitter, whom I had never met, who offered to come down and pick me up.
It didn’t take long for the farm manager, Gene to notice my plight—since I was walking around in mysterious circles on his cow field . Immediately he sent Alonso, one of the young men with a big smile and friendly heart, to take his three wheeler over to find farmer Jim and return with his metal detector. I had little faith that I would find my key in these acres of endless green. I walked slowly, swinging the detector in a wide arc in front of me. I felt that edge of despair. Why bother?
It was no small miracle that even as the metal detector’s indicator was skyrocketing over the dirt “here”, I looked over “there” and saw my keys a step away, primly sitting on top of an alfalfa plant. They hadn’t even fallen into the dirt below.
Later, reflecting on this experience and outcome, trying to assign meaning as I often like to do, I realized that for a moment in time I was being shown that when things go badly and my go tos are not available, kindness can be found with complete strangers. That miracles can happen. And we can summon our interconnectedness and all the things we need in a moment if we slow down, breathe and keep our hearts and eyes clear and open.
Bees and all non human beings are a part of this interrelatedness—trees and squirrels and flowers, plants, soil, water. All of us together, working in sync, is the only way through these dark times. There is wisdom coming at us from all sides. In this case unexpectedly, the beehives were not prominent, but the players in my life associated with my work with bees provided the backdrop for an aha moment.
We are all a part of the earth hive and we are not lost.
June is Pollinator month! Bee part of our annual Think Like A Bee swarmfunding campaign. In honor of all good food and the pollinators that make it possible, help fund our ongoing bee advocacy and education work this coming year. Go to this page and click on the DONATE button. You may also send any tax deductible donations made out to PES (our fiscal sponsor) c/o Think Like A Bee, 410 Morningside Dr. SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108.