Francis Weller on Grief

“Grief is subversive, undermining the quiet agreement to behave and be in control of our emotions. It is an act of protest that declares our refusal to live numb and small. There is something feral about grief, something essentially outside the ordained and sanctioned behaviors of our culture. Because of that, grief is necessary to the vitality of the soul. Contrary to our fears, grief is suffused with life-force…. It is not a state of deadness or emotional flatness. Grief is alive, wild, untamed and cannot be domesticated. It resists the demands to remain passive and still. We move in jangled, unsettled, and riotous ways when grief takes hold of us. It is truly an emotion that rises from the soul.”

Francis Weller

Someone drew the writer’s attention to this quotation yesterday (and thanks to Jewels Wingfield for posting it). She found it very helpful – and wholeheartedly agrees with it. Cultural pressures to hurry up and tidy away grief are immense, so we can slot back into ‘normality’, numbness and our place in the machine. And the reality is, whatever our personal circumstances may be, there is a huge amount to grieve in the world at the moment, just as there is a huge amount to be grateful for. For the writer, grief and gratitude are the living breath of love, and essential daily practices which support everything else. And love is always subversive….

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in creativity, cultural questions, Disconnection, emotions, empowerment, Francis Weller, gratitude, grief, loss, love, meaning, non-conforming, perception, political, power and powerlessness, presence, rewilding, vulnerability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanks by W.S. Merwin


with the night falling we are saying
thank you

we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say
thank you

we are standing by the water
thanking it

standing by the windows looking out
in our directions
back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying
thank you

after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying
thank you

over telephones we are saying
thank you

in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door and the beatings on stairs we are saying
thank you

in the banks we are saying
thank you

in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying
thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying
thank you

with the forests falling faster than the minutes of our lives we are saying
thank you.

with the words going out like cells of a brain with the cities growing over us we are saying
thank you

faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying
thank you

thank you
we are saying and waving
dark though it is”

W.S. Merwin

The practices of grief and gratitude seem to us the foundation stones for any possibility we might change the current bleak outlook for our kind – and all the other life we are taking with us as we head towards extinction. Thanks to Vera de Chalambert on Facebook for sharing this on U.S. Thanksgiving Day.

Here’s the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in core conditions, cultural questions, Disconnection, gratitude, grief, loss, love, meaning, natural world, paradigm shift, perception, poetry, sadness & pain, spirituality, violence, vulnerability, W.S. Merwin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Francis Weller on our shrunk & impoverished experience of being alive

Two favourites, Jewels Wingfield herself, and Francis Weller….

Here are the words, for those who have difficulty following Facebook links:-

“Modern technological society has forgotten what it feels like to be embedded in a living culture, one rich with stories and traditions, rituals and patterns of instruction that help us become true human beings. We live in a society with little regard for matters of soul. As a consequence, we need books and workshops on grief, on relationships and sexuality, on play and creativity. These are symptoms of a great loss. We have forgotten the commons of the soul – the primary satisfactions that sustained and nourished and community and the individual for tens of thousands of years. We have substituted a strange, frenzied obsession with ‘earning a living’ – one of the most obscene phrases in our world – for the vital and fragrant life of the soul. We have sadly turned the ritual of life into the routine of existence. This forgetting has reduced the arc of our experience down to its tiniest hub. The wider reach of our beings has faded, and the subtle and nuanced gravity of contact with the world has been diminished. This is heartbreaking!”

From ‘The Wild Edge of Sorrow’ by Francis Weller

Here’s the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in awakening, community, consciousness, cultural questions, Disconnection, Francis Weller, grief, interconnection & belonging, meaning, paradigm shift, presence, rewilding, spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Poem for the Blue Heron – Mary Oliver

A Poem for the Blue Heron


Now the blue heron
wades the cold ponds
of November.

In the gray light his hunched shoulders
are also gray.

He finds scant food – a few
numbed breathers under
a rind of mud.

When the water he walks in begins
turning to fire, clutching itself to itself
like dark flames, hardening,
he remembers.



I do not remember who first said to me, if anyone did:
Not every thing is possible:
some things are impossible,

and took my hand, kindly,
and led me back
from wherever I was.


Toward evening
the heron lifts his long wings
leisurely and rows forward

into flight. He
has made his decision: the south
is swirling with clouds, but somewhere,
fibrous with leaves and swamplands,
is a cave he can hide in
and live.


Now the woods are empty,
the ponds shine like blind eyes,
the wind is shouldering against
the black, wet
bones of the trees.

In a house down the road,
as though I had never seen these things–
leaves, the loose tons of water,
a bird with an eye like a full moon
deciding not to die, after all –
I sit out the long afternoons
drinking and talking;
I gather wood, kindling, paper; I make fire
after fire after fire.

Mary Oliver

Here’s the book link:-

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in creativity, Disconnection, Mary Oliver, natural world, poetry, sadness & pain, suicide | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Small Gods – Martin Shaw

Click on the link above for another powerful piece from Martin. Here’s a taste:-

‘Once upon a time there was a lonely hunter. One evening, returning to his hut over the snow, he saw smoke coming from his chimney. When he entered the shack, he found a warm fire, a hot meal on the table, and his threadbare clothes washed and dried. There was no one to be found.

The next day, he doubled back early from hunting. Sure enough, there was again smoke from the chimney, and he caught the scent of cooking. When he cautiously opened the door, he found a fox pelt hanging from a peg, and woman with long red hair and green eyes adding herbs to a pot of meat. He knew in the way that hunters know that she was fox-woman-dreaming, that she had walked clean out of the Otherworld. ‘I am going to be the woman of this house,’ she told him.

The hunter’s life changed. There was laughter in the hut, someone to share in the labour of crafting a life, and, in the warm dark when they made love, it seemed the edges of the hut dissolved in the vast green acres of the forest and the stars.

Over time, the pelt started to give off its wild, pungent scent. A small price, you would think, but the hunter started to complain. The hunter could detect it on his pillow, his clothes, even on his own skin. His complaints grew in number until one night the woman nodded, just once, her eyes glittering. In the morning she, and the pelt, and the scent, was gone. It is said that to this day the hunter waits by the door of his hut, gazing over snow, longing for the fox woman.

I would suggest that we are that hunter, societally and most likely personally. The smell of the pelt is the price of real relationship to wild nature; its sharp, regal, undomesticated scent. While that scent is in our hut there can be no Hadrian’s wall between us and the living world.

Somewhere back down the line, the West woke up to the fox woman gone. And when she left she took many stories with her. And, when the day is dimming, and our great successes have been bragged to exhaustion, the West sits, lonely in its whole body for her. Stories that are more than just a dagger between our teeth. More than just a bellow of conquest. As I say, we have lost a lot of housemaking skills for how to welcome such stories. We turned our face away from the pelt. Underneath our wealth, the West is a lonely hunter.’

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in accountability, awakening, beauty, communication, community, consciousness, creativity, cultural questions, Disconnection, ecological issues, embodiment, encounter, grief, healing, immanence, interconnection & belonging, love, Martin Shaw, meaning, metaphor & dream, myth, natural world, non-conforming, paradigm shift, perception, physical being, poetry, political, presence, rewilding, surrender, transformation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The biggest issue we face: #WorldMentalHealthDay – Monica Cassani

The biggest issue we face: #WorldMentalHealthDay

Click on the above link to visit Monica’s site for this piece she published last week on ‘World Mental Health Day’. Her perspective and ours at this service have lots in common. Both this piece and Monica’s site in its entirety are packed with useful resources. Enjoy.

And thank you, Monica.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling in Exeter since 1994

Posted in actualizing tendency, anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, autonomy, consent, cultural questions, cultural taboos, Disconnection, empowerment, ethics, growth, healing, iatrogenic illness, internal locus of evaluation, Monica Cassani, non-conforming, objectification, paradigm shift, perception, power and powerlessness, psychiatric abuse, psychiatric drugs, psychiatry, shadow, transformation, trauma, violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Parker J. Palmer on Integrity and wholeness

“By choosing integrity, I become more whole, but wholeness does not mean perfection. It means becoming more real by acknowledging the whole of who I am.”

Parker J Palmer – The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life

Oh, so much in these few words….and yes.

Palace Gate Counselling Service, Exeter

Counselling Exeter since 1994

Posted in actualizing tendency, congruence, Parker J Palmer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment