Hosting and Guesting in a spiral of welcome to embrace whatever comes up in life: this is what I learned from my mother as the relational spirit of hospitality. I think of her as I reflect on this piece from the thirteenth century philosopher-scholar Jelaluddin Rumi:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and attend them all!
This involves facing challenges, as Rumi muses:
Learn the alchemy true human beings know: the moment you accept
what troubles you’ve been given, the door opens.
The heart of hospitality
Gray-Greens are not faint at heart about either our human process of aging or the ills afoot in our ecosystems and culture. We unite in support for welcoming difficulties and accepting what troubles we’ve been given. One door we look forward to opening together is our new Gray Is Green Curriculum project, currently under development. We will be adding to our webpages (and offering as download for print) a variety of unique materials to welcome and inspire a range of alchemical possibilities for living as a Gray-Green. Watch for more in the coming months.
Friends gathered at home and in residential communities, at local coffee shops and bookstores, at civic meetings, sporting events, congregational celebrations, and hopefully in many workplaces—all create moments that make life sing! And then there are the special occasions that come up this time of year: Halloween, with the children traipsing through the neighborhood revealing identities that captured their imaginations, the upcoming feasting and sports-viewing events of Thanksgiving, and the myriad celebrations that dot the December calendar and year’s end.
I think of Election Day as one of these national holidays when public polling places welcome—or regrettably fail to welcome—the voters coming out to practice the hospitality implied in democracy. Here in Hamden, CT, I was re-elected to a seat on our Town Council. One of my neighbors, a man who has lived nearby with his family for about a decade and a newly minted citizen, was elected to a seat on our Board of Education even as he voted for the very first time—now that is hospitable democracy!
In the coming weeks as inauguration events take place around the country and elected officials take oaths of office, our communal guest house welcomes those of us those of us elected to serve. And we in turn are called to listen well, exercise sensitivity, and engage responsively with constituents on behalf of our communities of people and lands.
Ways of hosting Thanksgiving
The season of feasting that begins with Thanksgiving seeks to foster gratitude and generosity. ‘Tis also rife with memories of historical duplicity and genocide. It is in welcoming the full cornucopia of themes involved with our national Thanksgiving holiday that I see hope for us to arrive at a meaningful threshold of harmony among human communities, and between us humans and our host ecosystems.
And, of course, there is the food:
1) You can readily locate a food bank at Feeding America whether you want to eat, help feed others, or both.
2) Labels on holiday turkeys can be confusing so Rodale has deciphered them.
3) Nutrition Action is a great source for food updates and tasty recipes any time of year.
Within the heart of gratitude across America this year is the heartbreak of our nation’s crisis of economic inequality. No matter the meal at which each sits on Thanksgiving Day 2013, we will continue to hunger for justice in our nation and on our land.
What does Earth ask of us?
Our ultimate host is Earth. Our newest partner organization at Gray Is Green is The Center for Humans and Nature (CHN) where they enjoy asking big questions to provoke thoughtful conversation. A recent CHN query “What does Earth ask of us?” provoked these two very different and equally evocative responses for your consideration.
Alan Weisman submits “Absolutely Nothing”:
The Earth may be alive, and it may even be sentient, but despite our anthropocentric self-absorption, we’re just not that important to it. In the long run, regardless of our excesses, we won’t really make much of a dent in this planet.
Robin Kimmerer suggests reciprocity in “Returning the Gift”:
The premise of Earth asking something of me—of me!—makes my heart swell….We are not passive recipients of her gifts, but active participants in her well-being. We are honored by the request. It lets us know that we belong.
Gray Is Green: Out and About
In the November 2013 online edition of the American Journal of Public Health, a paper co-authored by Rick Moody is recognized for excellence as a 2013 AJPH Paper of the Year : “The paper by Frumkin, Fried and Moody, Aging, Climate Change, and Legacy Thinking, persuades readers to think differently about a topic. The authors were able to connect two of the major public health issues of our era—the aging of the population and the health effects of climate change—in a hopeful way by emphasizing the concern of older adults for legacy: leaving behind an intact world for their children and grandchildren.”
On Nov. 1, Rick Moody gave the Keynote Address at the Colorado Aging Conference, “Reimagining Our Future,” which culminated in a presentation on Gray Is Green and the positive role of an aging population in preparing for the future.
Our Gray Is Green re-post on Elder Activism featuring Bill McKibben was cited as being among the best content on spirituality and aging for Boomers on the web in Carol Orsborn’s Fierce with Age: The Online Digest of Boomer Wisdom, Inspiration, & Sprituality (#25). You are invited to subscribe to this free bi-weekly digest.
Kath Schomaker was elected to serve another term on the Hamden (CT) Legislative Council. She will be attending the Positive Aging Conference in Sarasota, FL, in April 2104 to make a presentation on Gray Is Green. Her top priority for the coming months is overseeing the development of the Gray Is Green Curriculum Project slated to roll-out in Spring 2014.
Ring the bells that still can ring,
forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
that’s how the light gets in.