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The Bowl of Tears

Honoring Our Pain in the World

This is fine for any size group. Just pour water into a clear glass bowl. Let it represent for you and for the others our tears for the world and all beings. And invite each person, as they pass the bowl to each other, or as they come and sit or kneel before it, to scoop up some water and let it trickle through their fingers. As they do, they can say: "My tears are for…."

Here's a description of this process with a large assembly:

With 250 people participating, we were challenged to invent new forms, especially for the part that's most intense: Honoring Our Pain for theWorld. That session began with poetry and spoken reflections on the power, liberation, and solidarity that comes with owning our collective grief. Then people clustered in foursomes to tell of their experience of the "great unraveling." After that they sang together, over and over like a chant, words of Adrienne Rich put to music by Carolyn McDade.

My heart is moved by all I cannot save.

So much has been destroyed.

I have to cast my lot with those who,

age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,

reconstitute the world.

The second half of that session is omitted on the Findhorn web site, so let me tell you what we did. With lights lowered, images of suffering and breakdown in our world were projected on a large screen, while a wordless, choral lament (from the same "My Heart is Moved" CD by Carolyn McDade) played over and over. On the hall's large, central floor space were set three glass bowls half-filled with water. The ritual consisted of people slowly, randomly, coming down from their seats around the hall to kneel by a bowl, and let its water trickle from their hands and their tears for the world be spoken ("My tears are for…"). As their forms moved about in the semi-darkness, resting here and there on the floor, or returning to their seats, we all seemed to be held by the music, the murmuring around the bowls, the splash of water. Then, when movement had stilled, we slowly processed out of the hall, carrying the Bowls of Tears. Into a garden pond outside the entrance we formally poured them out, reminding ourselves that the pain we feel for the world is no private pathology; it connects us with Earth and each other. "Let us remember: our tears for the world are the tears of Gaia."