My wife & I went to a wonderfully inspiring and rich talk last night given by Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer in The Green Room, a series of lectures hosted by The Merwin Conservancy.

W.S. Merwin was an American poet, Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner. He lived on Maui, until his death in March of this year, on an 18 acre property that he had turned into one of the largest and most biodiverse collections of palms in the world. The Merwin Conservancy sprung out of his work there.

This was the first Green Room lecture since Merwin’s passing, and the initial part of the evening was spent remembering his life and work. The theatre was packed, the busiest that I have seen it in a long while, a fitting tribute in itself to Merwin.

Dr. Kimmerer’s talk focused on Gratitude, Attention, and Reciprocity and how all of these can give us hope in the face of the ecological damage being inflicted on our Earth. Being of Native American descent, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and in the process of learning the language of her ancestors which has been all but lost, she spoke about how languages such as that of her peoples' opens up a view of the world and so a way of being in the world, that languages such as English just don’t lend themselves to. Languages shape how we see and interact with the world around us.

  • What do we give our Attention to?
  • Attention is our doorway to gratitude and reciprocity.
  • How the practice of gratitude fills us, precluding the need for things to do the filling.
  • How reciprocity towards Mother Earth, giving back to the Earth, is an act of joy, in just the same way as we are fulfilled by giving back to those who we love.

Dr. Kimmerer’s talk reminded me of the work of two of my ecopsychology teachers, Gary Snyder and Joanna Macy. A truly wonderful evening. An evening of hope.