Natasha, a young mother, joins elder Carolyn Baker in contemplation. Yes. We are to look clear-eyed at the devastation. We are to feel it in our hearts. We are to grieve our great loss.
What comes next is unknown.
I join Natasha and Carolyn in this vast, bittersweet, ongoing, sacred ceremony.
September 23, 2013
by Natasha Alvarez
theyearofblackclothing via Corbin
mourn·ing (môr n ng, m r -)
The expression of deep sorrow for someone who has died, typically involving following certain conventions such as wearing black clothes.
Black clothes worn as an expression of grief when someone dies.
- Unity or agreement of feeling or action, esp. among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.
re·bel·lion (r -b l y n)
1. Open, armed, and organized resistance to a constituted government.
2. An act or a show of defiance toward an authority or established convention.
The Year of Black Clothing
My heart is broken. As I watch my beautiful son sleeping on our bed, my heart bursts with love and happiness. The way his eyes move beneath eyelids during dreams. The curls by his ear. The rise and fall of his tiny chest. My love for him takes my breath and clenches my fists. Surely there has never been a creature so wonderful on this planet. All I want for him is goodness. I want to give him everything his heart desires, so he wants for nothing. I’d give him the world if I could.
The world I have to give him is broken. The rivers here are mostly dead. We rarely see fish. When we do, they often have skin lesions. The water is never safe to drink without a filter. We must go over and over again with him, teach him repeatedly against all his instincts “ No, no, no, you may not drink that stream water, that spring water, that creek water. That water is yucky, will make you sick.” We stick out our tongues, and he laughs, but he looks confused. He’s clearly expecting a world where the water is safe to drink.
The water is poisoned, the air is toxic, the soil is contaminated. Many people are suffering. The land and animals are suffering. Corporations run our government and the world. They are not alive. They do not protect the interests of things that are alive. These are the realities. This is the broken world I have to give my boy.
If I knew nothing about these terrible things, and someone came and told me about them, I would be terrified. If someone came and told me,
“Hey the water is poisoned, the air is toxic, the soil is contaminated.
Many people are suffering. The land and animals are suffering.
We’re losing species at an alarming rate.
Corporations run our government and the world.
They are not alive. They do not protect the interests of things that are alive. You and your family are in danger”
I would CRY OUT!. “Oh my God this is an emergency!” I’d pull my hair, tear my clothes, gnash my teeth, cry, and howl.
If someone came and told me these terrible things, I’d panic.
And then I’d fight back.
So, all this is real, it’s really happening. But I’m stuck. I can’t move to the fight back stage because I can’t stop panicking. I’m stuck in the victim stage, the heart pounding, stomach fluttering, cold sweat panic stage. I want to move to the fists clenched, teeth set, head held high survivor stage, but I can’t. Because the danger is not passed. It’s constant. The world is collapsing around us, and we’re expected to keep going, act like nothing’s happening, smile and wave.
The water is poisoned, the air is toxic, the soil is contaminated. Many people are suffering. The land and animals are suffering. Corporations run our government and the world. They are not alive. They do not protect the interests of things that are alive.
That’s the truth, and I’m tired of acting like everything is fine. But what can I do? I’m stuck in panic mode, wheels spinning.
So I asked myself the question, “How do people move forward after terrible traumas and tragedies? How do people deal with sorrow and sadness so they can live to fight another day? How do people move from the victim stage to the survivor stage?”
I did some research.
And I think I found the answer.
They cry, wail, tear their hair and clothes and gnash their teeth. They remember what they’ve lost. They honor those memories through laughter, stories, prayers, songs and rituals. Sometimes they wear black. Sometimes they mourn in the company of others who have also lost something. And all of this is done so that the panic, pain, and grief can be felt, honored, and then PUT AWAY, moved past, moved through, transformed into peace and strength. All of this is done so the person can move from victim to survivor. All of this is done so the person can have a clear mind, strong heart, and focus to keep fighting.
So, the water is poisoned, the air is toxic, the soil is contaminated. Many people are suffering. The land and animals are suffering. Corporations run our government and the world. They are not alive. They do not protect the interests of things that are alive. And I’m panicking. My wheels are spinning with no forward motion. I’m frozen by the grief I feel over all this loss. I need clarity. And so I’ve decided to embark upon a year of mourning.
Mourning, Solidarity, and Rebellion.
So I’m going to wear black for a year. It’s the traditional color worn during mourning in many cultures. It’s also traditionally a color worn in solidarity. Solidarity for ones we’ve lost and the ones who are fighting now.
Each day, I’ll choose the one I grieve for. It could be a species of plant or animal. It could be a person. I may cry, sing, light candles, stomp around. I may sit in silence. I may do nothing and play with my sweet baby. I’m not really sure what will happen because I’ve never done this before. I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying not to think abut these things because they’re too big and scary. But whatever happens, I’ll share it here on this blog.
Each day, I’ll choose the one I stand in solidarity with. It could be a person, a tree, a culture or a species. I may honor them, write about them, speak about them, cry about them. I may paint pictures of them, hike up mountains for them, pray for them. I may write letters to them, send them food and supplies, or fight beside them. Whatever happens, I’ll write about it here.
Each day, I will commit one act of rebellion. One act of rebellion against this culture of oppression, death and destruction. I may eat organic corn from my garden, I may hug a stranger, I may organize a rally, I may do things I will not report here, but I will do something every day. I will do these thing in solidarity with those who are fighting now and those we have already lost. I will do these things to support the culture of rebellion, the culture of those who know there is another way to live on this planet and fight for it every day.
My husband Wilson, love of my life , and partner in everything, will be undertaking his own Year of Black Clothing: in mourning, in solidarity, in rebellion. He will share his own story and experiences through frequent guest posts on this blog. Michelle, my dear friend, fellow activist, and lover of life will document our experience through her beautiful photos. And friends and activists far and wide will contribute as guest bloggers through their writing, poetry, song, video, photography, and art.
If you hate me for this, for pointing out the things that are ugly and sad and heartbreaking, that’s fine, nobody is forced to read this writing. But, if this resonates with you in some way, if some small piece of your heart recognizes the tragedy around us and wants to move towards action, I invite you to join me in this.
Mourn with me, take your stance in solidarity, commit your own acts of rebellion. Make your own blog, youtube videos, posters, and paintings. Wear black, wail in public, tell your friends. Scream from the rooftops, teach your children, stay home from work. Organize your friends, join activist groups, make your own. Save a tree, a piece of forest, your own backyard. Do it for your children, your family, your community, yourself. SHARE THIS INFORMATION OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN . The water is poisoned, the air is toxic, the soil is contaminated. Many people are suffering. The land and animals are suffering. Corporations run our government and the world. They are not alive. They do not protect the interests of things that are alive.
Refuse to act like nothing is happening.
the culture of rebellion will start to grow,
and strange and wonderful things will happen.
That is all for now.