A Time for Healing and Togetherness

We are looking greatly forward to The Collective Trauma Summit, a free,10-day online event beginning September 22nd, that will “explore methods for working with unresolved and hidden trauma in individuals, communities, and society.”  Exactly along the lines of everything we believe in and strive to put forth into the world, the summit will focus on real-time solutions to the acute problems of our era along the truly life-enhancing power of mindfulness, and “the role of music, the arts, and poetry as a pathway to understanding and healing.”

It’s no exaggeration to say that at this point in our collective reality people throughout the world are experiencing a time of mass trauma. Add to the fear of and suffering from Covid-19 worldwide, humankind is also dealing with the inexorable knowledge that radical climate change is not simply imminent: it has arrived and is impacting Earth, her animals, her people, and her environment in overwhelmingly challenging ways. In the U.S. we are also continuing to struggle with the ways in which racism has always shaped and continues to shape our society, denying so many the dignity, opportunities, and basic human rights that all human beings deserve as their birthright. Although this collective trauma means that our era is a time of rare suffering, the shared nature of it also contains the possibility for the kind of empathy and togetherness that can seed lasting healing and change.

In this spirit, the roster of speakers for this extraordinary event includes some of the most thoughtful and influential leaders and solution-bringers in the world. The spectrum of offerings addresses both the inner work we each must continue to do to stay awake to the reality of our challenging world while taking care of ourselves in the process, and the outer work we must do to be skillful, contributing members of our society. Speakers will include philosophers, shamanic healers, theologians, human rights defenders, journalists, mindfulness experts, teachers, physicians, therapists, those working in the fields of restorative justice and communal accountability, and artists of all disciplines.

Here at Engaging the Senses Foundation we have always believed that the arts not only continue to play a powerful part in our ability to find solace, face challenge, and seek wisdom, but that our need for the clarity and beauty they afford is more vital than ever in times that ask so much of us. Our guiding principle is that now, as perhaps never before, we must turn to the great arts like poetry to remind us of our best selves and help guide us through the often bewildering social and political landscape. By offering dramatic films based on the lives of great poets, poetry documentaries, and mindfulness teachings that prepare us for the truths contained in poetry, along with support of literary organizations and presentations that bring poems and poets to underserved communities, schools, town halls, and libraries, Engaging the Senses Foundation is committed to the luminosity of the human spirit as it engages with the world through art as a form of active response and meditation.

Given our emphasis on the arts, we are particularly excited about the presentations that U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo; essayist and award-winning poet Jane Hirshfield; and Kim Rosen, who has brought poetry as a healing art to people around the world, will be offering. All three gave us profoundly moving interviews for our in-process, future poetry documentary, and we have had the honor of working on additional projects with them. We know firsthand the extraordinary wisdom and beauty they bring to their poetry and to the other powerful work they do in the world. All of the poets and artists who will present are also deeply inspiring to us, and surely will be to you, too.

We hope you’ll join us online for this event that has the potential to give us all the kind of encouragement we need to keep seeking justice, beauty, and meaning in a time that has asked, and will continue to ask, so much of us.

On the Fifth Day  by Jane Hirshfield

On the fifth day
the scientists who studied the rivers
were forbidden to speak
or to study the rivers.The scientists who studied the air
were told not to speak of the air,
and the ones who worked for the farmers
were silenced,
and the ones who worked for the bees.

Someone, from deep in the Badlands,
began posting facts.

The facts were told not to speak
and were taken away.
The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.

Now it was only the rivers
that spoke of the rivers,
and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees
continued to move toward their fruit.

The silence spoke loudly of silence,
and the rivers kept speaking,
of rivers, of boulders and air.

In gravity, tongueless,
the untested rivers kept speaking.

Bus drivers, shelf stockers,
code writers, machinists, accountants,
lab techs, cellists kept speaking.

They spoke, the fifth day,
of silence.

Advice For Countries, Advanced, Developing and Falling
A Call and Response
by Joy HarjoA country is a person.

A country is a noun, to be bought and sold. I have a deed.

The ruler’s disposition and rules determine the state of being
for all constituents.
Each state governs itself without respect for individuals. It’s
everyone for themselves.

Power is dangerous when wielded in the hands of one. It is
meant to be shared.

I was given this position by cunning, by money, by sex, by
family, by God. It belongs to me and no one else.

We cannot own anyone else, people, the lands, or resources.
We are here to care for each other.

We are right. We build walls to keep anyone who is not like
us out of here. God gave us these lands. We separate
children and cage them because they are breaking our
God’s law.

Every increment of any thought, action, or deed matters, has
consequences in all directions.

Not if you can make a law. Not if it passes the Supreme
Court. Not if we can pay for it.

There will be no balance without all voices present in the
power circle.

You will never earn your way here. You are the wrong sex,
wrong color of skin, wrong sexual orientation, not my
religion, not my language.

We are making our grandchildren’s world with our words. We
perceive a world in which everyone sits at the table
together, with enough for everyone.

“We will make this country great again.”

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