Gratitude, honoring our pain, seeing with new eyes, going forth – Joanna Macy

Joanna Macy is one of the wise women this planet is blessed with at during these difficult times.

The image above outlines a natural spiral sequence that symbolizes the flow of experience.

Gratitude lies at the root of all. This is the the place from which all religion, all spirituality must flow from. It is the well from which the water starts flowing towards the ocean.

Honoring our pain follows, because without that our natural tendency would be to avoid it and thus we would avoid the gift that our pain ultimately is to make us wiser. Our pain is a gift that is hard to recognize in the moment. But by looking at it honestly and with kind and compassionate eyes we may find out why it has been given to us.

Seeing with new eyes is the stage where we learn to look at our pain as a gift, as something given to us with a purpose. Looking at it in a new way opens us up for the lessons that lie in that gift.

Going forth concludes the circle. Healing from our pain, learning to see it as a gift are wonderful. But the ultimate goal is to bring the fruits of that gift into the world. Helping others is a path that never ends once you embark on it as a soul. The path our soul takes through the ages is long like the path of a drop of water through the earth’s great water cycle. And like the drop accumulates minerals as it flows we accumulate wisdom we can share when we come home.

There is a reason why Joanna Macy’s website displays this poem by the Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke at it’s entry point:


I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?


Joanna Macy’s website can be found here:

Her many books, every one a treasure can be found here ( search results).

Also see our page about another wise one, – Charles Eisenstein.