I have been "absent" from my blog the last few weeks, which (contrary to the emerging culture of blogging) does not mean I have been absent. I am leading my annual contemplative kayaking trips in Alaska through Inside Passages, and that involves something ancient and entirely un-cool in contemporary culture - being (OMG!) off the grid!
The trip I've just completed was with a group of Jewish environmental activists and leaders through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, co-led by myself (a non-Jew) and a couple rabbis who accompanied us on the trip. Somewhat to the surprise of several activists in the group (a pleasant surprise as it turns out) we talked little during the week about our activist causes. In fact, we talked a lot less than normal generally. Instead, we listened. We listened to the extraordinary sounds and many more-than-human languages of natural silence, something which is becoming an extinct experience in our massively urban, too-busy human world. We sat and ate and paddled together often with a choice to hold that silence together, to give it scope and duration, and to watch with curiosity to what it evoked within us - both pleasant and unpleasant. And being human, there was some of both.
There was also plenty of good conversation, much learning and teaching from this extraordinary group of academics and activists. But mostly we chose to listen, and - for a time - not to solve or fix. We talked about the inner radiance of being that gets lost in our daily striving to repair a world in turmoil "out there". We talked about - and deeply felt - the need for inner habitat restoration to match (and undergird) our work in the world, and to sustain a more robust sense of resilience that we activists ultimately need more than ever before. For this group, for this week, that was enough. And it was a great gift.