I’ve been drinking up pictures of the 4 million people who participated in the Global Climate Strike on Friday. I was very moved by the powerful youth leading the strike in Saint Paul. I was a high profile teen activist when I was in high school, thanks to the support of the adults where I grew up in Berkeley, California. Watching the youth speak, I was reminded of my younger self, although I think today’s youth are more articulate and charismatic.

Photo by Emily Jarrett Hughes

I felt privileged to hear so many young voices and perspectives – both from the speakers and in the signs carried by the crowd. My heart also breaks to see so many young people caring signs expressing their very real fear that climate change will kill their generation.

A few signs were along the lines of “Adults, you have failed.” I admit, the jab at adults stung.

Yet my younger self secretly harbored a similar sentiment. Actually, I’ve got those youth beat. I have not only felt deeply disappointed by the adults in power, I have felt betrayed by the entire history of Western civilization. I have despaired if we have ever not oppressed and exploited each other. I am a perennial student of history and have grown to see the patterns of trauma extending back at least 6,000 years. I have spent decades on a spiritual quest to understand how humanity can be capable of both absolute horror as well as astonishing beauty. This has been a heavy, heavy burden on my heart which is only recently coming into reconciliation.

What has gotten me through is the many spiritual traditions that have been carried forward by generations. I would not know how to find my purpose and make meaning today if it were not for the Christian mystical tradition, the Taoist keepers of qigong wisdom, the unbroken chain of dancing circles in the Balkans and Greece, and the Ojibwe water walkers who teach me to pray for the water. I would not be living the life I live, listening to and serving these wisdom traditions, were it not for the generous material and spiritual gifts from my family and their ancestors.

I spend less time frothing over the evils of Western Civilization and more time striving to live by the wisdom that is here to guide us through. I try to spend more time appreciating the profound amount of support underneath me. I wish for all of us to have this support; so when you sing a little tune to yourself for courage you might feel the millions of people who also sang that song before you. I wish this especially for our youth, so they never feel alone and unsupported as together we lean into the evolution required of us at this moment.

With love and gratitude,


A retreat to help strengthen your connection to ancestral love and wisdom

The Ancestral Love All Souls’ Dance Retreat will draw on Laura Shannon’s research on the healing power of traditional women’s ritual dances from the Balkans, Greece, and Asia Minor. As tools of transformation, the dances support us in connecting to the love that exists even within complicated inheritances and unlocks our power to heal our painful stories. Early bird registration ends on October 15.

Weekly Practice and Community

Healing Waters Qigong is a Spring Forest Qigong practice group. The Wisdom Dances Circle is based on Laura Shannon’s research on traditional dances from the Balkans, Greece, and Asia Minor as tools for healing and transformation.