WHAT IF you watched the last colours of dusk seep out of the atmosphere, leaving you silently in your own stillness? What if, beneath your modern certainty that life will go on without your participation, the sun didn’t rise again in the morning? What if the Old Man decided he’d had enough – enough of your indifference, your unconscious expectation, and your unwillingness to see the signs?
It’s a thought that was previously unthinkable to my mind, before I met Stephen Jenkinson.
Last August, on a chill morning beneath the canopy of stars, I gathered with new friends and scholars next to the impressive teepee recently constructed for this event. The night before, Stephen had instructed us to gather at “first light.” When a few of us leapt to questions of further clarification, he responded “You’ll figure it out.” Such is the vague but oddly respectful directions of a man that trusts the tenacity of people.
And so – darkness. We sat on the bales of hay, round the smouldering embers a campfire’s memory. A few offerings of conversation, but mostly silence. Waiting.
Then, the faintest tinge of white began to seep into the horizon. A figure quietly, and calmly, emerged from the trees, until he stood before the teepee, and before us. He began to tell a story.
Lest I offer a clumsy retelling of the tale, I shall offer this: the story involves the old man in the sky, and the role the human plays in pleading with him to rise for one more day. This contradicts the perspective inhabited by most “modern” humans – that the universe is simply a machine that has been set in motion long ago. Our own coming and going are of little consequence in this impassive grinding of cogs and gears, no matter how often we allow ourselves to recognize the staggering beauty. But what if that perspective is wrong? What if, in fact, we have always been needed but have shirked our duty to the rest of life?
Hours passed, and Stephen’s words flowed like a memory buried deep; like a book found dusty and weathered, an anachronistic longing from another time. As the sun climbed carefully, but assuredly, into the sky, my vision grew blurry, and my heart threatened to claim me.
“Grief,” says Stephen, “comes to those who get it, not from being above it.”
The “it” in that statement can and will take a lifetime to excavate, but the truth of the words is a detonation I’ve needed to hear for a long time.
From that teaching on Salt Spring Island, I committed to amplifying Stephen’s offering in the world, the first I’m pleased to share with you now. HOMECOMING is a 10 part series filmed in Maui in early 2012. While I was not involved in shooting, I did the final editing and post-production, along with cutting the trailer:
In Stephen’s words:
This three day teaching is part wonder, part battle cry and part strategy for the beginnings of a deeply wrought human life which makes peace with the ravaged world, finds a home along the old abandoned road, and honours the grief soaked longing for those things and those people we thought we lost. This is what generations to come deserve from us, this labour, and it might yet fashion from us a generation of ancestors worth coming from.
I highly recommend you proceed immediately to purchase the DVD set or download the entire series. Having gained an intimacy with the material, I can whole-heartedly say the teachings therein, if you let them, will rupture your certainty in ways you didn’t know you wanted.
And not a moment too soon – the world desperately needs the broken-hearted.