Intricately Commingled

Wild EdgeFrom Francis Weller’s The Wild Edge of Sorrow (2015):

…our lives are intricately commingled with one another, with animals, plants, watersheds, and soil.  For the last several centuries, we have envisioned a split between our inner lives and the surrounding world.  Psyche, however, is not confided to the deep interior of our lives; it overlaps with the wider world and perhaps, in these times, is most evident in the sorrows and suffering of the earth itself.

The Wild Edge of Sorrow

wellerA Review By Tommy Airey

I’m someone who strictly reads books with a pen in hand. I do, after all, have standards. Francis Weller, though, is someone who writes books that force me to rearrange my standards for what gets underlined. His recent release The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief (2015) follows that trend. One-fourth of my copy is penned up. If I applied normal standards, though, it would easily be two-thirds. Paragraphs swim through waves of sentences pounding the reader with profundity. For the most part, I’m a typically unexpressive, work-it-out-in-my-head white heterosexual male. Weller, though, sparks something deeper in me. I found myself nodding, slapping inanimate objects, muttering out loud “Yep, holy shit.” An example from early in the book:

What I have come to see is that much of the grief we carry is not personal; it doesn’t arise from our histories or experiences. Rather, it circulates around us, coming to us from a wider expanse, arriving on unseen currents that touch our souls.

Weller is drawing on thirty years of experience in the therapy room, concisely summarizing Jung and Freud, relaying many stories that arise from clients. But he also peppers us with quotes from poets like Rilke and Rumi, Mary Oliver and David Whyte. The icing on the cake is the way he draws on indigenous wisdom and soul-tenders like Pema Chodron and John O’Donohue. Continue reading

Mourning & Memory

francis-wellerSome highlights from Francis Weller’s recent article in Utne Reader “To and From the Soul’s Hall:”

We need to create circles of welcome in our lives in order to keep leaning into the world; to keep moving grief through our psyches and bodies, so we can taste the sweetness of life. Modern psychological theory utilizes the terms attunement and attachment. The language has become somewhat abstract and clinical, but what it means is that we require touch in body and soul to help us respond to difficult times with kindness and compassion and also to celebrate the sheer joy of being alive. We need these experiences to feel that we matter—quite literally—that we have matter and substance, that we take up space in the world. When we sense this, we feel that we are worthy of deep and lingering attention and that we can, in turn, offer our caring hearts to others in times of sorrow and pain. No matter who we are, we need the heartening touch of another. Even those of us who are introverted will, at times, require the devoted attention of a friend or a partner who can offer a sensitive ear to our tender woes. Continue reading