50th Anniversary of Earth Day – April 22, 2020
An invitation from Metanoia with reflections from the artist.
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world. Wake up now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings. (Longchenpa 1308-1363)
As I write this the world wide pandemic swirls around, dismantling all that we took for granted, invading the delicate tissue of our lungs, confronting the ignorant selfishness of our economic system, and revealing the glaring fissures in our social networks. The current administration of this country, using the diversion of this pandemic is actively dismantling every piece of EPA legislation. There are days when the heaviness of my sorrow and the shrapnel of my rage undoes me. I go to my studio and weep. Grief is inevitable, to lean into it, embrace it, to do its work and move to its’ opposite shore of deepened awareness and recommit to being the eyes of the world and the song that morning brings is my work as an artist. My husband is a Hospice Chaplain. He is present on the front lines, leaving no one to die alone in this Armageddon of diseases, standing with the brokenness of doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and devastated family members for whom grief knows no boundary or border. This is the context from which I write today.
The earth also feels the effects of this microscopic killer. She is breathing better, her skies are clearer, the Himalayas are seen, swans and porpoise are seen in the clearer waters of the Venice Canals, deer wander freely in some cities of Japan and a once thought to be extinct Civet crosses an abandoned street in India. Are we even aware? Do we care to hold the greater picture as we move into a conversation with Metanoia, a conversation of depth and risk. Metanoia is the goddess of grief and remorse who inspires repentance. In the ancient poetry of Ausonius (c.310 – c.395) her voice emerges as the goddess who “exacts punishment for what has and has not been done, so the people regret it.” (underscore mine). I see her clothed in the shadows of her traveling companion Occasio, the goddess of opportunity. The Grieving Planet Project requires me to reflect on repentance Repentance is held in the action of responsibility; taking the action of responding. I have provocative traveling companions walking along with me, Occasio and Metanoia.
In the studio I work on my artist’s book, The Book of Lamentations – Earth Day 2020. The Grieving Planet Project requires regular meetings with Metanoia and Occasio. The writing of Kelly A. Myers 1 guides the conversation.
Metanoia portrays the promise of lament, (underscore mine) for those who miss the opportunity…I recast metanoia as an active emotional state in which reflection, revelation and transformation occur…2
…when Metanoia is brought out of the conceptual shadows, “opportunity” and “regret” begin to expand rapidly.3
On this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, as the EPA lies shattered and the words of Albert Schweitzer from Rachel Carson’s dedication in SILENT SPRING echo in my heart; Man has lost the capacity to force and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth. I invite you to respond to the invitation of reflection, revelation and transformation from Metanoia and Occasio.
Irene F. Sullivan
22 April 2020
1 Kelly A. Myers is a Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University.
2 Myers, Kelly A. “ Metanoia and the Transformation of Opportunity” Rhetoric Society Quarterly. Vol.41, No. 1, pp 1-18.