A New Story

Let’s start with a story.

Earth’s story began in an instant 13.7 billion years ago. We flared forth as light, underwent a series of creative and irreversible transformations, both physically and psycho-spiritually, until we arrived here –in this moment, on this beautiful blue planet, interconnected with and a part of all that is here in this place. Earth is our home and we are part of her unfolding story.

Problem: We Are Between Stories

Have you ever had a family member who seemed to be in one crisis or another all the time? In many family systems, we encounter individuals that always seem to create crises in their life—and in the lives of those around them. Why is that? Evidence suggests that humans create crises, not just as individuals, but as a culture: institutions crumble around us, ecosystems struggle, Earth’s own climate is shifting…. all crises the we collectively create.

The present difficulties on Planet Earth have become pathological and even existential for humanity. The very chemistry of Planet Earth is changing. Forms of human commerce and their proliferation as a species is so destructive, that the planet is experiencing another mass-extinction event—an unraveling of the very web that sustains life.

In the legend of King Arthur, once the fighting was over, in a time of peace, Arthur worried that his knights might just start another war! So, he sent the knights to seek the Holy Grail. He knew they needed a larger purpose—a quest—in order to feel relevant, to feel alive.

Is it possible that as individuals we are addicted to crises in order to feel fully alive? Is it possible that in doing so, we have collectively and unconsciously created an existential crisis for humanity itself?

“We are in between stories” says modern mystic and cultural historian Thomas Berry. “We need a new story to navigate our way out of the difficulty we have created for ourselves and our world.”

We seem to have forgotten the story of which we are a part—the story of Earth.

Solution: A New Story

Berry, along with Brian Swimme, in their book The Universe Story, call Earth’s epic creation story “the New Story” They are among the first to document it not only as physical (material) evolution, but also as psycho-spiritual unfolding of consciousness for planet Earth. Every race, creed and religion on Earth has the potential to embrace this new story—as our collective sacred creation story.

What is the New Story? At its simplest, it is this: we flared forth from light and have been evolving ever since as a living, interdependent unfolding expression of the Divine. We are all connected and have been from the beginning. Each of us is a part of this unfolding story… and our actions will determine how the story unfolds from here.

Human consciousness is Earth reflecting on and celebrating the Universe.

We Have Been Here Before

This New Story comes none too soon. Human commerce is fundamentally destroying the biosphere (as we have known it) on our small blue planet….. So, The Sacred Universe story can remind us that each of our stories, is a paragraph in this larger story. In other words, it’s our story too… it’s one story (uni-verse) that continues.

We can take solace in what has happened to us thus far. Many times in this epic story, on this very planet, the whole experiment of life could have ended.

For example,nearly 2.5 billion years ago on planet Earth, a noxious gas, generated by some of the earliest life forms, poisoned the atmosphere and threatened all life. It even etched the rocks! Life on Earth hung by a thread. Would the story end right then and there, leaving this planet as a dead rock floating in oblivion?

The gas was oxygen. It was literally burning cells up from the inside. So, life got creative. Mitochondria were born—first as stand-alone creatures, then as a subset of other creatures. Mitochondria turned oxygen into fuel to further the adventure of life. Creativity saved the day.

That wasn’t the first or the last time all life on Earth would be threatened.

There was the time 65 million years ago, when an asteroid hit Earth, filling the skies with smoke and debris so thick it blocked out all sunlight… fully destroying the dominant form of life on earth (dinosaurs) and threatening all life. At that time, the creativity of small mammals allowed the story of life on Earth to continue…. Once again, Creativity triumphed. Life survived.

Then there was that time in the early 21st century… how does that part go? In this chapter, humans create a crisis for life on Earth by changing the chemistry of planet earth’s atmosphere. Human forms of commerce and the species proliferation is so destructive, that another mass-extinction begins an unraveling of the very web that sustains all life on Earth.

What happens next will depend on whether or not the humans get creative.

Our Great Work


Thomas Berry further suggests that humans are called and guided to a Great Work: and that everyone, without exception, has a role. Each generation has their own Great Work.  The Great Work of our time is to remember our interconnection and to bring humans back into right relationship with the living systems of Planet Earth before it is too late. He proposes that we not only have the capacity to turn our own situation around, we each have a unique role that only we can play.

To do so, we must reach into our deepest knowing, wisdom and creativity, to each discover and live our own passion and our own paragraph in Earth’s unfolding story.

We are miracles, after all. Together we make up a living system on a small blue planet in an infinite dark sea of space. If that isn’t miracle enough, as a result of these transformations, we now see and imagine that original flaring forth nearly 14 billion years later. We are energy transformed… contemplating the very first energy that flared forth.

We are story telling a story.

But we are living it too, and it’s not easy to tell it and live it at the same time.

We do know this: we need to get creative! Not the kind of creativity that produces plastic lawn furniture or plants that do not reproduce. But really creative. So creative that humans everywhere awaken to their dream—their sacred creative force.

Awakening the Dreamer

Humanity’s Great Work is to both remember our part in this story, and to reimagine and restore our connection with the web of life. Our work is to create an environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling human presence on the planet. Our personal Great Work lies at the intersection of our deepest joy, the world’s need and our unique gifts and genius, and it’s part of the Great Work of our time.

We are stardust transformed over 13.7 billion years. So it is high time we act our age. Each and every one of us is called to connect with our inner life force and with the needs of Earth and her inhabitants. We must understand both who we are and what is ours to do at this moment in Earth’s history.

If the humans are to be a part of Earth’s story moving forward, then awake and creative human beings will be the reason why.

Form this moment forward, it is time to awaken the dreamer and create a new dream, a New Story.

Permaculture Soul

Lately, I’ve encountered more and more people who believe our culture is living the wrong story.

The old cultural story is this: we need things to be happy, and we definitely need more money.  Abundance is limited.  We must fight for our share of a decreasing pie. Earth is here for humans to use (or use up).  

What is in the way of creating a New Story? It is this…

Fear.

For example, one result of the old, dysfunctional story is this: most people who have “enough” are afraid they soon won’t.  They resent anyone who needs more, even if it’s just to survive. Those who do not have enough are afraid too–desperate even–that they won’t have what they need to survive.

There are plenty of dystopian Hollywood movies from Mad Max to The Day After  to Idiocracy that show us how a this story like this ends:  it’s a story of death and dying.  In all of these unhappy endings, Earth is trashed for the sake of human needs or conflict.  The vulnerable are exploited. Our children and grandchildren inherit less beauty, less life and greater struggles than the generation before.

This is insane.  And we know it…

So let’s change the ending of this story.  Let’s change the dysfunctional dream of the Western World.  The only thing stopping us (really) is fear and hard work, everything else is an excuse.

Blogging for Sanity started in 2004, though I basically stopped blogging 2008 for awhile when economic collapse was upon us and I felt called to serve my local community as an elected official.  During the Obama Years, I focused on change in our local community and attempted to bring about a new approach to government.  Mostly I wanted to increase awareness of how sacred Earth is.

During that time, I learned that people are basically good, but the more they watch TV the angrier they are.  My goal was to get them outside… helping.  I found permaculture is a way to apply new paradigm thinking to anything and bring about hope in people of all ages.  I also learned that public leadership is limited by what the majority believes, and that fear and anger are dominating many people’s beliefs right now.  This was so apparent to me while in public office

I’ve never lost faith in the good in people, nor humanity’s potential.

The solutions to our current challenges might seem impossible at times, but imagine what will happen when all of humanity awakens to a New Story and starts to live it.

Imagine a story where everything is connected, where happiness and stability are based on relationships with ourselves, other people and the natural world.  Imagine a story where we stand together for what matters: all life, Imagine unlimited abundance we create in partnership with the natural world.

Imagine what it will be like when the most noble work is restoring humanity’s relationship with the natural world and with each other.

Imagine justice flowing like a river.

I used to feel alone in this seemingly impossible quest.  Now more and more, I believe it is possible.   It won’t be an easy road… but honestly, what is the alternative?

We need to change the collective trance.  We need a New Story that activates all to their full potential.

I’m on the lookout for levers to make this happen.  I’ve found a few and will share them from time to time.  We need to be the change we wish to see int the world. We need to become Permaculture Souls tending the garden of our culture, our communities and our own lives.

The first: find local projects that inspire people to show up and work together–preferably outside.  A New Story, new world view, new paradigm starts with real connection.

I’ll share what I discover along the way.

Infinite Creativity – Interview with Drew Dellinger

Once upon a time, nearly 13.7 Billion years ago, we flared forth as light.  We underwent a series of

irreversible transformations until we arrived where we are here and now—writing a story about our journey.

It took awhile, but that’s how far we’ve come.  We essentially burst forth as light and after changing a bit, we arrived as a living system together with our fellow travellers on a small blue planet in a dark sea of space.  As a result of these transformations, we can now contemplate that flaring forth 13.7 billion years later.  We are energy transformed… contemplating the first energy that flared forth.

Let’s pause for a moment and let that sink in.

Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, in The Universe Story, call our understanding of this epic a “new cosmology” or “the New Story.”

Stories are about meaning and connection…They help us understand things,
they help us connect to one another, they help us connect to Earth when
we realize that we are a part of the planetary story.

This year, I had the opportunity to chat with poet and activist Drew Dellinger about The New Story and how it has influenced his own work.  This is a bit of what Drew shared:

“One of the biggest moments was my encounter with the work and the writings of Thomas Berry when I was just starting college–Prescott college in Arizona in 1990 and just before that a friend of mine, Steve Snyder had found Thomas Berry’s book, The Dream of the Earth, and we were like, “Oh my God. This is amazing.”

“The back story is that we had been in a multiyear process of trying to find meaning in the middle of a corporate capitalist society while going to a public high school in North Carolina. There was not a lot of creativity, spirituality or intellectual stimulation. They’re great folks but not a lot of folks asking that question about what is important, and what is the big why, what is the deeper meaning.

And so, when we read Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry’s book, “The Universe is a Green Dragon”, they were saying we need to have a new approach to the Universe.  I had never been interested in Science– like space and stars.   I thought they were kind of cool but I was never galvanized by the sciences –but all of a sudden Thomas Berry is saying, “We have a new comprehensive understanding of the Universe itself.”

I never heard anybody writing about the Universe itself.  The cosmos is a new context for education.  What?  Well, this is wild.  We need to understand ourselves as the embodied expression of the Universe.  As the Taoist would say, the ten thousand things, it’s the one Tao.  It’s the one energy.  The Universe is a seamless, unfolding energy that is both spiritual and psychic and physical and material from the very beginning. Richard Dunn would say, “The spiritual and the material are interwoven, matter, spiritualizes.”  Matter has spirit at its heart.  Matter is not just matter but spirit in motion, these types of things so I’m assuming you’re going like, wow this little brief encounter with some of these essays is really shifting my world view making me think about the planet in a new way.  Very simple things, very subtle shifts, that’s  scientific in a certain way but just with a new twist and new perspectives.

So reading Thomas Berry and then later coming to study with him…he’s saying, “We are the earth, we are the Universe,” and when a whale sings an incredibly complex song, that’s the earth that composed the song.  When a bird flies, the earth is flying and when humans write poetry, when humans commune with each other, when humans celebrate that’s Earth celebrating.

And so, when you talk about the big why that comes in from Berry’s thinking.  He would say, “That’s what we’re here for.  We’re here to celebrate.  We are the space in which the Universe reflects on and celebrate itself.”

So, all of a sudden I had something that made sense.  That made sense to me, capitalism, consumerism, advertising, that didn’t make much sense.  War, racism, sexism, economic exploitation… that didn’t make sense.  Working at an occupation that one feels is grinding one soul down on a daily basis and doing that for 50 years and then retiring, that didn’t make much sense, but the humanist, the space in which the Universe itself can celebrate and reflect on itself — now that made sense.

Want to hear the entire interview?  Visit entrepreneursandthenewstory.com to access the recording (free).