Full Body Listening: Reflections on Life, Healing and the Ecozoic

House of Life

Sunday May 15, 2011

The House of Life: Our Connection to Nurturing
Joanna Haymore

I went to an art opening recently in historic downtown Hillsborough to see a series of vibrant paintings, by my friend, Melissa Miller, entitled Places We Come From.

Her portrayal of old and abandoned barns and houses in the midst of plowed earth, often shielded by tall trees, along small country roads, evoked for me a reverent remembrance of life that surely once inhabited those old houses. Her paintings reminded me to connect to the beauty of the Earth that houses each of us. They evoked the passage of time and change, as old houses uncared for, return to the Earth.

Through her artwork, Melissa is creating what my dear friend, Thomas Berry, called the ‘great work’ of making meaningful connections though our activities in ways that sustain a sense of wholeness, aliveness, and beauty.

Thomas said, the ‘great work’ as a way of living could be the legacy of our generation: he named it the Ecozoic Era, meaning “’house of life’. The key rests in the hands, hearts, and minds of each one of us.

During the last twenty years of his life, it was my pleasure to listen and share conversation with Thomas Berry when he spoke at Camp New Hope conferences, at the University of North Carolina, and in his quaint upstairs apartment, the Hermitage, as it was affectionately called.

He inspired me with his vision of hopefulness that my ability, and every human’s capacity to reflect upon and celebrate our connectivity with Earth and each other, through dreams, stories, rituals, and our daily activities, might enable all life: the two footed, the four, the winged, the swimming, and the microscopic to live into the future, with the abundance that got us where we are today more or less intact.

Thomas urged anyone who came to his talks, or read his books, to find their own “great work” that would sustain this sacred vision.

As this blog unfolds, my hope is that it is one of those ways.

I want to share a story from my Full Body Presence clinical practice, with names and particulars changed, of one person finding such a connection.

A client, a young mother, Valerie, came to me, concerned about her ability to parent her daughter with the tenderness, aliveness, and sense of nurturing that she sensed was possible.

As we explored her concerns, through her body’s awareness of tensions and stresses, it became clear that in her inner “house of life”, where her own youthful hopes and dreams once lived, there resided a sense of distress and unease that she was passing on to her daughter. She could see in herself, the parenting model of her WWII aged parents, who had not able to make room for the inspirational aspects of her young self.

So, in becoming busy with daily tasks of running a household, getting her daugher to school on time, work, and so on, this inner connection to a sense of nurturing was still lacking. Like Melissa Miller’s old and abandoned houses, the inner house of her being, with its passions, hopes, and dreams was waiting for someone to come home and revive them.

With the presence of our shared attention on this inner house, Valerie experienced relief and ease in her body, tears of joy and sadness. The full range of feelings returned, as she imagined embracing herself with the same love and attention she longed to give her daughter.

Valerie remembered that although her parents had not been receptive to her naturally joyful presence, that she could accept and forgive them as having done their best, and make her own choices as to how to nurture and connect to life and move into the future, in ways that nurture both herself and her daughter.

This for Valerie was her “great work”.

Confluence on the Eno II by Melissa Miller, http://www.melissalmiller.com
Thomas Berry-http://www.thomasberry.org


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