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The End Is Never Really The End

March 31st, 2013 by Alison · 7 Comments · global warming and climate change, spirituality & religion

Happy Easter! But, hold on. This post will apply to you whether or not you celebrate Easter.

Easter is about transformation, about something beautiful rising out of something tragic. Before Christ ever walked the earth, people held great celebrations at the beginning of spring because the cold, bitter, death-dealing winter had turned out to not be a permanent misery or tragedy. The winter yielded to sun, warmth, and the life-giving spring in which plants, animals and people could flourish again.   

Fast-forward to the present. Hasn’t each of us had an awful thing happen in our lives that felt like The End? We’ve all had a winter of the soul, a death of something we treasured. Losing a job, the end of a friendship, failing a crucial class, divorce, not being chosen for the job we wanted, a bankruptcy, a business failure, a dream shattered, being bullied or humiliated or rejected — nobody goes through life without some of these experiences.

But, the painful event turned out to not be The End for us. The loss, the death of our job or relationship or dream was a kind of death. The loss was real. But it was followed by some type of rebirth.  Life went on, however much that surprised us. We coped. New paths turned out to exist. Healing happened, and learning and growth. As with the resurrection story of Easter and the spring celebrations that existed long before Easter, beautiful things can rise out of tragic things.

I think we all yearn for transformation. Everybody I have ever known has had some type of dream for their life. A loss is like a death, and a dream is a vision of rebirth. The dream might be traveling the world, or becoming their own boss, or getting married and having a family, or finding a cure for cancer or climate change. Some people’s transformation-dream hinges on an external fix. The billions that Americans spend annually on lottery tickets is a testament to many people wanting their lives transformed – through no real work of their own.  

But transformation generally requires our active effort and growth. External fixes to our lives, like getting rich quickly, or a new and perfect love-interest suddenly appearing, rarely happen. Usually it’s our showing up steadily and making ongoing, disciplined effort that yields us our dreams, whether those dreams are loving relationships, good jobs, travel or self-employment. We have to be willing to grow and change if we want transformation.

Many of you know that climate change, also known as global warming, is often on my mind. Our planet’s climate is deep into a transformation process, though not the kind of transformation we’d like. Rising and record temperatures, drought, destructive fires, and violent weather events like Hurricane Sandy are already our new normal. The climate’s transformation will only escalate in the years and decades to come, and our lives will change.

The ways in which our lives will change due to the climate changing will feel like The End to us. But we’ll need to remember that what seems like The End is never actually that. Rebirth happens, sometimes on very long time-tables. The scale of climate change, in terms of both tragedy and possibility, will be much bigger than we are used to, and we’ll need to start seeing beyond our personal lifetimes. It takes a lot of spiritual growth to do that. But beautiful things rising out of tragic things isn’t just the Easter story. It’s the history of humanity, and of the earth that’s our home.

As climate change unfolds, we’ll have to adapt by using resources more carefully and respectfully, and practicing interdependence rather than indulging our illusion that we are separate from each other. I think climate change will trigger a long, unfolding transformation of humanity. Easter is about transformation, but transformation is much bigger than Easter. It’s woven into the fabric of life.    

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • Jen Patterson

    There’s this human tendency to hang on to things rather than riding the waves of change. One thing I love about where I live is the change of seasons including the large change in daylight hours from season to season. While I enjoy the longer hours in the summer, I also revel in the long dark evenings in the winter. Except for when I don’t, and then I’m longing for a different time and wishing things were different. This is a bit of a rant, but your post is making me think about seasons and how important it is to accept the current moment for what it is, but how I also want to make changes in the ways that I need to make changes. All this said, I always enjoy the crucifixion story much more than the idea of rebirth. I guess my challenge is more about learning to accept the pain. Rebirth? I’m all over that. Long-suffering? Hmm, maybe later?

    • Jen Patterson

      okay, maybe “enjoy the crucifixion story” isn’t quite what I meant to say. How about “the crucifixion story has always drawn my interest much more than the resurrection story.”

      • Alison Wiley

        Jen, I’m intrigued, because the crucifixion story draws your interest but is about suffering, and the resurrenction story is the triumph over suffering. Yet, in your earlier comment you said you’re all over rebirth, but the suffering part you’d rather put off (me too, hard to imagine anyone consciously seeking suffering). — At any rate, I like this type of discussion in general. I like what you wrote: “I also want to make changes in the ways that I need to make changes.” And, please always feel free to rant away :) .

  • GrnPwrGuy

    Well written and nicely thought out. I really appreciated this posting!

  • Kathy

    Hi Alison,
    A radio program I listened to not too long ago jumped to mind after reading your post and your email about preparing for the Message at church this Sunday. The title is Creating the New Dream and the Future of the Earth with Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D. If memory serves, she is an evolutionary biologist and her thoughts about how we as a people and the earth as a planet will respond to climate change were fascinating. You may want to check it out - I think the entire program was close to an hour.

  • Kathy

    Also…. how did I not know you were in to sustainability, less stuff, more joy, resource sharing. Denise & I have had a dream about sharing resources and living expenses for so long now but haven’t quite figured out how to make it work. It started way back when I used to talk to my Mom on the phone and inevitably at some point the conversation turned to cooking and recipes. Then we would talk about how silly it is that we don’t live together - how wasteful it seems to have 2 refrigerators, 2 ovens, 2 washer/dryer sets, essentially 2 separate households for only 4 people. And wouldn’t it be fun to share the joy and responsibility of meal preparation and cooking? (But they live in Seattle; D & I do not want to live in Seattle nor do they want to uproot their lives & move to Pdx). Soon it seemed silly that everyone on the block has a lawn mower - I mean how many times do we need to mow our lawns a month? Why can’t there be 1 or 2 lawn mowers per block and we all share? And from there one can pretty quickly envision a commune - but then I don’t want to live in a commune. And it seems that most communes aren’t that stable, at least for long. But with the cost of housing/mortgage eating up such a huge percentage of a family’s income and so many Americans being house-poor, shared housing seems to make so much sense! Our most current thoughts on the notion is that it would be ideal to find another compatible couple (or set of people) with a similar notion and actually purchase a house together. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have all the benefits of living in a $350 or $400 thousand home but only have a $175 or $200 mortgage??? Plus many of your other household expenses would be cut nearly in half! But then there all the details and practicalities of how that could really work - and then we stop thinking about it … ’til the next time the notion reappears. Okay. I’ll stop. But how fun to discover your blog and your interest in sustainability! Neat!

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