Introduction Editorial

Walking the Labyrinth

This is a time of sorrow and wonder. Many hard and painful truths are there for us to see, as well as stories of human courage and healing. We are seeing it is possible for the Earth to heal too. Where I live, it is the peak of summer’s glory – everything fresh and alive – even as the pain of racial division continues. Fresh flowers and fresh wounds.

The accelerated pace of change is dizzying. Could anyone have predicted, on the eve of 2020, that the coming months would unfold like this? In truth, many have been sounding the bell for decades, warning of pandemics, climate chaos, rising gun violence and deepening systemic racism. Yet, only now are we collectively waking up to the intersectionality of these concerns. The virus is forcing us to scrutinize everything, finally revealing the web of fractures in our social, political and economic systems. Like you, I struggle to imagine what the future will be like for our children and their children, and how to make the right decisions for them now.

I chose the theme of the labyrinth for this edition of Kosmos to represent our collective journey in this moment. A labyrinth is not a maze – we can’t get lost. It is however, a mystical path with twists and turns – a deliberate, metaphorical journey of the heart – to the ‘center’ and out. We are not alone in the labyrinth. Others are taking the same circuitous pilgrimage, and yet it is a journey we must take ‘by ourselves’, filled with strong emotions. Friends have reported a kind of fog that lately settles over them..a mix of confusion, fear, and ennui. The labyrinth can feel this way, and it is OK. It is not a journey that always offers answers, but it teaches us to work with uncertainty.

The writers in this edition of Kosmos are on labyrinth journeys. Maybe you have felt yourself to be on such a journey too. We chose essays that expressed experiences and feelings, not rhetoric or opinion. And contrasts – one art gallery contains portraits of flowers, the other, faces of people without shelter. There is the journey of activist Ruairí McKeirnan, hitchhiking Ireland to find hope; and the lived experience of two biracial sisters, seeking identity. There is John Bell’s journey to heal white racism, and Lilia Clement’s quest for meaning after a 50+-year career on Wall Street.

Each step we take, banal or profound, affects outcomes, not just for ‘me’, but for all. Will I wear a mask in public? Fly in a plane? Eat meat? Grow food? Join a protest? Two ideas can help us: accountability and reverence. To be accountable is to answer personally for the outcomes of our choices, actions, and behaviors. No more excuses. And I like this definition of reverence – ‘a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe’. What does it mean to live a life ‘tinged with awe’?

My children teach me a lot about accountability and reverence. When my daughter joined the protests in New York City, she said her white skin compelled her to show up because she is statistically less likely to be injured by law enforcement than a person of color. And my adult son reminds me each day that we live in paradise, as I join him on walks in the forest, by the cool stream. He is the first to spot a fox, or the Great Blue Heron, his warm brown eyes tinged with awe.

We were careful with this edition not to make pronouncements – ‘Collapse is inevitable’ ‘A new era of unity is dawning’ – because we just don’t know. Both may be true. As Zora Neal Hurston said, ‘There are years that ask questions and years that answer.’ 2020 feels like the former. Maybe we can’t fix the world yet or predict the future, but we can acknowledge that our actions and words have effects, and we can begin each day with fresh commitment to offer our accountability and reverence to the situations we encounter and decisions we make.

Please keep Kosmos and our wonderful founder Nancy Roof in your heart, as you live in ours. For twenty years, Nancy (now age 90) and her circle of luminaries helped us prepare for this moment. Many of the threads that we must now weave into a future, have long been examined in-depth in Kosmos: Regenerative culture, global citizenship, consent-based governance, spiritual ecology, the commons, living earth, local living economy, intentional community, peacebuilding, mindfulness, interspirituality. These models and practices, and many new ones, always have a way of (re)arriving just in time, when they are most needed. And they have something beautiful in common. Nancy reminded me the other day, that like sheltering-in-place and nonviolent protest, they each reflect in some way our instinct to ‘take care of each other’.

Let’s never underestimate that instinct, the human spirit, the human heart. We journey by ourselves, together. And step by mindful step, we find our way home.

About Rhonda Fabian

Rhonda Fabian is Editor of Kosmos Quarterly. She is an ordained member in the Order of Interbeing, an international Buddhist community founded by her teacher, Thích Nhất Hạnh. Rhonda is also a founding partner of Immediacy Learning, an educational media company that has impacted millions of learners worldwide.

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