Reflections on World Sorrow

Francis Weller, in his book The Wild Edge of Sorrow, talks of the Sorrow of the World.  By acknowledging the losses in the world around us, we begin to understand how our personal loss seems insurmountable due to our accumulated experiences of loss that we witness in the world. These are not the natural disasters that we respond to with volunteering and supporting donations but, living day to day in response to man’s inhumanity to man. Events like; war in Ukraine, drive-by or school shootings, violence against women, children, immigrants or people of a different race, creed or culture, sexual persuasion are not events we know how to genuinely and compassionately respond to. 

While the sorrows of the world cannot be assuaged as individuals. We can acknowledge them in community and come to understand what Weller describes as the “anima-mundi.’  Defined as, that intrinsic connection between all living things. To consider the world as “a living organism and we as creatures who inhabit this Living Planet” has been a concept since antiquity. To consider any damage to the planet as a wound or scar is to begin to acknowledge that the immense repercussions of how we as inhabitants of this Earth have profound impact on our environment and the very “liveliness” of earth.

My wife, Nancy often speaks about alchemy and grief. The transformation that is possible when grief undergoes a change that results in an opening of our souls. This grief of the world registers in our bodies and lacking resources to heal the pain it accumulates, stagnates and manifests as illness, depression, loneliness and despair. When we incorporate our loss, into our being, it results in the experience of growth. The alchemy transforms us.

Grief Work and Ritual offer opportunity to experience the communal cup of loss. To express our kinship to one another based not on a comparison of loss but of honoring the loss because each loss is unique and profoundly felt. In our sacred complex world, the alchemy that grief allows us to turn our losses into the gold of what might yet be.