Grief and loss touch us all, arriving at our door in many ways. It comes swirling on the winds of divorce, or the death of someone dear, as an illness that alters the course of a life. For many of us, our grief is tied intimately to the ravages we witness daily to watersheds, forests and the disappearance of species, the silencing of languages, and the coarsening of culture. And yet our encounters with sorrow are often met with confusion, fear, and overwhelm. We are uncertain how to meet this difficult guest when it surfaces in our lives.
This brief presentation will explore the elements of an Apprenticeship with Sorrow. It is through the rites of grief that we are, in turn, ripened as human beings. Grief invites gravity and depth into our world. Our work is to understand grief not only as an emotion but also a core faculty of being human, a profound capacity to metabolize sorrow into something nutrient-dense for the community. This apprenticeship is, at heart, about the crafting of elders capable of meeting the pain and suffering of the world with a dignified and robust bearing. This is soul activism intended to foster deep cultural change.