Renewing the Sacred Balance:
Transforming and Healing the Whole Earth Community
In a warm circle on a Wednesday night, fifteen people rise
from their tea and join hands, swaying and stepping silently
to quiet Latvian music. At a break in the song, voices call
out the names of people and places in need of healing, including
Novozybkov, the forest village where the Elm Dance is still
done to remember the forest, land, air, and people contaminated
by the fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
When the music stops we stand there, breathing. Finally,
facilitator Ruth Blaser breaks the silence, “Look how
these people don’t want to leave,” she laughs.
And, it’s true! In the eight weeks of this transformational
course, “Engaging in Spiritual Practices to Renew the
Sacred Balance”, we have moved from a group of strangers
to a community, ready to nurture the love needed to bring
the world around to healing. Week by week we have grown in
gratitude, awareness, and hope, and we have reached our goal
of “strengthening our intention to participate in the
healing of our world”.
As a person involved in the justice and environmental movements,
I was impressed by the power of the workshop’s process.
Each participant developed a practical project to keep this
work going, made vows to continue and support each other,
and each has seen a change in her/his personal life.
The key, I think, lies in the motivation for change, woven
into the four spiritual practices of the workshops. Instead
of anger or fear, the motivation is love for all beings,
based on an experience of our deep interdependence as creatures
of the Earth.
This workshop series is part of “Renewing the Sacred
Balance”, the most recent campaign of Faith and the
Common Good (F-CG). F-CG is a Canadian multi-faith network,
directed toward engaging citizens and building citizen movements
for environmental education and action. Working in partnership
with David Suzuki’s “Nature Challenge”,
F-CG’s latest campaign encourages people of faith to
draw on ancient spiritual traditions to bring them into right
relationship with the whole Earth community. As explained
on the F-CG website (see below), “We need to be motivated
by love, by beauty, by a sense of the sacred,” and
therefore, “spirituality … must be at the heart
of the great process of transformation that lies ahead”.
The series in Regina is based on the work of Joanna Macy
and Molly Young Brown, and the four spiritual practices found
in their book, Coming Back
Grounding in Gratitude” is the first practice and is
foundational to the rest. Here we explored the web of breath
that keeps us alive; we recognized in each other’s
eyes the courage we offer each other in living in this time;
and we paid attention to the goodness in our body’s
Thus grounded in the soil of gratitude, we moved forward
to the next step to face “Grieving for the Pain of
the World.” Using a sacred ritual known as the Truth
Mandala, we expressed our anger, fears, emptiness, and despair,
one-by-one, speaking out our pain on behalf of the Earth
community. The circle of strength we formed with our bodies
held us in a place of hope so that the pain would not become
too much. Like our breathing, we went into, and came out
of, the Truth Mandala.
As difficult as this work was, it is very important. As
Joanna Macy says, “The greatest barrier to the Great Turning
is … the deadening of our response.” We must
not become numb to others’ pain, or even consider pain
to be private or individual. The creation is a whole. When
a child is hurt, or a forest rendered radioactive, the creation
is hurt and rendered radioactive. When we deny our interdependence
we shut ourselves off to our own pain and our own needs.
Thus desensitized, we make ourselves helpless.
Seeing with New Eyes” was the next step. We began with
the most positive and hope-filled document I’ve ever
seen: The Earth Charter! This multi-national agreement represents
humanity’s highest hopes for the community of our planet.
Its principles of respect and care for the community of life,
ecological integrity, social and economic justice, democracy,
nonviolence, and peace have been endorsed by thousands of
non-governmental organisations, towns, and cities throughout
the world, who are working to implement these principles.
Non-governmental organisations from 52 countries spent ten
years developing the Earth Charter and it remains a vision
of the Sacred Balance renewed.
Moving forward into David Suzuki’s “Nature Challenge”,
we saw parts of the Earth Charter put into practice. Taking
the “Challenge” involves choosing three ways
in which we personally will reduce our impact on the Earth.
Apart from a personal pledge, the “Nature Challenge” serves
as proof that Canadians and others care about the health
of their habitat and are willing to change their lives to
Finally, it was time for “Going Forth”. After
the nurturing rhythm of weekly song, breathing, dance, and
togetherness, we needed to prepare a way to maintain our
goals and learnings when we left the community we had created.
Individually reflecting on our highest desire for the Earth,
we presented plans for practical projects toward those goals.
In small groups we helped each other refine our ideas and
offered support and resources, trusting in the wise oneness
of the universe to bring healing through these projects.
Please join us in our work for the healing of the whole
Earth community. Be aware of our oneness and don’t rush.
In the words of a Taoist saying, “We have so little
time; we must go slowly,” to renew the Sacred Balance.
Engaging Spiritual Practices to Renew the Sacred
Balance” course is being offered in Regina through
Faith and the Common Good and facilitated by Ruth Blaser.
It is an eight-week course, Oct. 18 to Dec. 6, 7:00 pm–9:00
pm, cost $80, location TBA. For more information visit www.faith-commongood.net or contact Ruth Blaser at (306) 546-5585, email: email@example.com.
Rachel MacDonald, of Regina, is an educator and artist who
has recently participated in “Engaging in Spiritual
Practices to Renew the Sacred Balance” course in Regina
and has written the above article to share her experiences