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The Blue Sapphire of the MindNotes for a Contemplative Ecology$
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Douglas E. Christie

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812325

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812325.001.0001

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Penthos: The Gift of Tears

Penthos: The Gift of Tears

Chapter:
(p.70) 3 Penthos: The Gift of Tears
Source:
The Blue Sapphire of the Mind
Author(s):

Douglas E. Christie

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812325.003.0003

This chapter addresses the following question: What does it mean to open oneself to grief, to consider it as a critical part of the work of coming to know and care for the natural world. It begins by situating Aldo Leopold's insight within the context of a larger conversation concerning the role of tears and mourning in the work of spiritual transformation. Many spiritual traditions place high value on the role of grief and mourning in facilitating both personal and communal transformation. One such tradition, arising from the world of ancient Christian monasticism, gives particular attention to how tears—understood as a gift—can open up the soul and create the possibility of a more authentic relationship to the divine and to others. The chapter then draws upon the classic work of Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich, The Inability to Mourn, to consider the consequences, for persons and for entire societies, of the suppression of grief. Finally, it considers what it might mean to integrate the practice of mourning more fully into our relationship with the natural world and how such practice might help us learn to see and respond to the world more honestly and deeply.

Keywords:   Aldo Leopold, grief, natural world, mourning, spiritual transformation, The Inability to Mourn, Alexander Mitscherlich, Margarete Mitscherlich

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