Our body knows what is missing


I'll begin with this remarkable quote from Francis Weller, Author of ”The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief”

"Whilst many of us suffered mightily because of unconscious parenting, we must remember that our parents were participants in a society that failed to offer them what they needed in order to become solid individuals and good parents. They needed a village around them and so did we
Of course we were disappointed with our parents. We expected forty pairs of eyes greeting us in the morning, and all we got was one or two pairs looking back at us. We needed the full range of masculine and feminine expressions to surround us and grant us knowledge of how these potencies move in the world. We needed to have many hands holding us and offering us the attention that one beleaguered human being could not possibly offer consistently. It is to our deep grief that the village did not appear"

I well up every time I read this. It speaks of a deep truth - that part of the grief we carry is that longing for, needing of the village. Deep in my bones, I sense this loss.

In the same book, he speaks of the five gates of grief: the fourth one being "The Fourth Gate: What We Expected and Did Not Receive" The above is a clear articulation of this gate.

For a long time, decades really, I have carried this sense that something was deeply missing from my life, and many of the lives I see around me. Occasionally in films and books, this "missing" would show itself: a scene in the film "Rob Roy" where the clan gathers to dance, sing and celebrate, or reading the extraordinary books of Martín Prechtel - which tell of his journey from disconnected individual to living as a shaman in Guatemala - deeply embedded in "village" life, connected to community, the natural world and the spiritual world. Each glimpse spoke, often painfully, of the loss of story and song, ceremony and sacredness, elders and tribes. It spoke of a time when the land was something we knew intimately and cared for, where the elements and waters and stones were in some way alive. It spoke of a deep belonging to a natural world.

We live in a world where very little is sacred anymore, where only vestiges of ceremony occasionally show up in our collective life. Where our would-be elders are hidden away in care homes, disconnected and marginalised. Where communities are places we visit rather than live in. We have become consumers and tourists in our life.

I have come to see that much of the sorrow and pain we carry comes from this deep sense of what is "missing". It is easy to perceive this pain as some kind of personal failing or flaw, to pathologise it, but more often than not it's a deeper knowing and longing for what is and was deeply needed but not present. Eugene Gendlin speaks of each of us being born with a blueprint for life. It sounds like a slightly mechanical metaphor but it does catch the sense of deeper needs that if unmet, are profoundly affecting. It speaks of the same "missing". Charles Eisenstein says it like this.

"A multiplicity of needs go chronically, tragically unmet in modern society. These include the need to express one's gifts and do meaningful work, the need to love and to be loved, the need to be truly seen and heard, and to see and hear other people, the need for connection to nature, the need to play, explore, and to have adventures, the need for emotional intimacy, the need to serve something larger than oneself and the need sometimes to do absolutely nothing and just be" From "The more beautiful world our hearts know is possible"

It's no wonder I feel this ache in my being that I try to numb out with Netflix. It's no wonder I find myself weeping at the grief of what we have collectively lost.

When I find myself angry or wanting to blame my parents for my pain, I remember: "They needed a village around them and so did we"

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