An exclusive, personal report from Ann Amberg, MCS.
November 7, 2014
In September I had the privilege of attending, along with over 325 others from 50 countries, The New Story Summit: Inspiring Pathways for our Planetary Future, a pivotal event held at the Findhorn Foundation and Community September 27– October 3, 2014.
I sense it may take years for me to digest the deep movements of unfolding stories and processes of this larger-than-life shared experience. Part of that incorporation for me is to take time to reunite the powerful impressions in my inner/outer heart and soul and nurture the momentum of my capacity to let go of an old story.
I can say that I was impressed with many things: the way that the 40 Findhorn Fellows beautifully held a sacred and strong container for our emergent unfolding, the financial support offered through gifting for many to be there who otherwise could not—including myself—, the commitment, integrity and sensitivity of the indigenous leaders who held and guided healing processes every day and night from the opening ceremonies to the closing of the four directions, the strength and courage of women standing, telling their stories of truth from wounded worlds, and our willingness to grieve, sing, collaborate in spaces of not-knowing, commune, wait and listen, improvise, show up fully, dance, ask questions, meditate, mediate, be vulnerable, and celebrate together.
But saying that I am “impressed” comes from separateness; from my ego, from old habits of standing outside and comfortably distanced from discomfort, and this is a way of living in an old story. As we know so well, the old stories at every level are breaking down…and it’s uncomfortable. What I want to share here is a small witnessing of a groundswell of unfolding change from my personal, particular, inner experience. In the last few months I have been relinquishing an old personal story, shaped by old family habits, that I have not always wanted to see or release. It’s hard work. I have been tracking how that feels in my body and psyche, informed by events in nature.
After spending the summer in Italy and England with friends, housesitting, visiting Schumacher College, walking blissfully on the moors, and continuing to work remotely by computer at my part time job, I had planned to end my summer abroad by participating in the Summit. I had never been to Findhorn and had been looking forward to visiting. I felt grateful to be supported by my community to attend and contribute to the event.
In the week before the Summit, rather than feeling excitement and anticipation, I was not ready to participate or immerse myself in a large social gathering. I feared that the energy there would be so big that I might feel completely overwhelmed. I was in an introverted state; I felt tired and drained from the intensive soul-work I had engaged in during the summer. I had much to integrate; I wanted to withdraw and crawl under a rock. I had visions of being a potato-bug, and was looking for lovely undisturbed darkness, solitude and peace…
In fact I felt completely resistant to going. The day before I was to leave for the gathering, I was walking with my friend in a seaside village in Lancashire along an inlet, when a public warning blast sounded. I was told this is the alarm that warns of an unusual, large tidal swell about to come in suddenly. When I went into a shop, the water level was at low tide. When I came out out fifteen minutes later, there was a charge in the air; I noticed that the world seemed suddenly filled up with energized, flooding water, very close to the walkway, in an almost-overflowing high tide, and there was no beach left. It was unbelievable and a bit eerie. I felt the power of this tidal swell and I sensed it was connected to the coming new story about to unfold.
I almost relinquished my place at the gathering at the last minute and stayed in the sublime Lake District. But I forced myself to move on and go north into Scotland. When we arrived at Cluny I had had very little sleep and was exhausted, very much overwhelmed, energetically traumatized and stressed. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the opening ceremonies. I got on the bus with everyone else, from many countries, young and old, and took my place in the Universal Hall with hundreds of people. I could not keep my eyes open, and my body hurt. As I listened to the stories of pain and woundedness of humans and earth, brave truth-telling, feeling the building energies in the space like big water coming in, I realized the only way I would survive the event would be to let go, into relationship.
I offered my resistance, separateness and overwhelm to the mystery and flow of the group process, which was love. I knew the container that we created in the center that first day was rooted enough to hold anything. I trusted it, and so I let that sea of trust hold the breaking apart that was happening within me. It worked—I allowed myself to be folded into all that was happening, even the not-knowing, and it gave me energy to go on. I did not have to hold myself alone anymore…I was held by everyone there. I was still exhausted and tired, but I was no longer in a pressure-cooker of resistance. I was in a field of love!
I remembered that this is what the universe does….it builds and builds its structures—its stories— and then when the time is right, that story is finished, and it is destroyed, it collapses, is no more. Like the supernova star that burns hydrogen for billions of years, as it burns off layers its temperature and pressure rise to unbearable limits, and suddenly it implodes and there is seemingly nothing left….it dies.
What does it feel like to resist letting go of the old story? Does it feel like a pressure cooker—like being held in the grip of unresolvable pain and stress? What does the supernova “feel” before it releases itself? In the framework put forth in the 2004 DVD series The Powers of the Universe, by evolutionary philosopher Brian Swimme, this is the experience of “cataclysm” as a primary cosmic dynamic. It is the death and rebirth cycle that reshapes and transforms. We are in the pressure-cooker of the loss of untold numbers of species disappearing every day, the sweeping, dangerous shifts in global climate patterns, and growing poverty, injustice and inequity. The structures and systems we have built as part of the dream of the modern industrial era are shattering and are maladaptive, we know we have to let them go, but we don’t know exactly the outlines of the new stories and structures that are emerging. We are not quite comfortable yet with the idea that we are being invited to become colleagues with the universe as part of that emergence; it is a human/earth collaboration.
To remain creative and agile within the space in between stories is our present challenge. It’s all part of the process of cataclysm— of release—happening on a global cultural scale. All that unfolds on the stage of our inner/personal experience reflects the larger collective story unfolding and reforming, transforming. In this way my inner journey and your inner journey are not unrelated, rather they are a guide and a map to the evolution of an emerging way of being human that may at first seem unfamiliar and new, and that will work better for the flourishing of the whole.
One of the highlights of the week was an elegant and simple sacred marriage ceremony of the feminine and the masculine in communion with the earth. Becoming transparent to the beloved Other in this powerful way could not have taken place before the grief ceremonies, wobbly chaotic emergent moments and long council processes that preceded it. The Summit was truly one grand and authentically improvised ceremony of love and new possibilities.
I appreciate what Gigi Coyle, a Findhorn core team member, writes in her blog posting on the New Story Hub: “Maybe we need cultural translators, bridge people, good storytellers and more, willing to live some of the best stories we have.” See her full post here:
My trust and hope is that we might marry our awareness of our personal stories of transformation to our collective experience of change, as an action of partnering consciously with the cataclysm and release now taking place in our time.
— Ann Amberg, MCS
“What Does the Universe Do?”
Since 2001, Ann Amberg, M.C.S., has deepened the work of Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme through her leadership development work in the US and UK. In 2012 she founded the “What Does the Universe Do?” program of applied transformational ecology. As an educational consultant, she facilitates leadership & learning programs for the Center for Partnership Studies founded by Riane Eisler. Ann is also a witnessing artist at www.luminousagent.com.