Tonight at the United Religions Initiative Thanksgiving Dinner, we are going to read this poem by Christine Fry. It is one of Joanna Macy's favorite poems.
THE GREAT TURNING
You've asked me to tell you of The Great Turning, of how we saved the world from disaster.
The answer is both simple and complex.
For hundreds of years we had turned away as life on earth grew more precarious.
We turned away from the homeless men on the streets, the stench from the river, the children orphaned in Iraq, the mothers dying of AIDS in Africa.
We turned away because that is what we had been taught.
To turn away, from our pain, from the hurt in another's eyes, from the drunken father or the friend betrayed.
Always we were told, in actions louder than words, to turn away, turn away. And so we became a lonely people caught up in a world moving too quickly, too mindlessly towards its own demise.
Until it seemed as if there was no safe place to turn. No place, inside or out, that did not remind us of fear or terror, despair and loss, anger and grief.
Yet on one of those days someone did turn.
Turned to face the pain. Turned to face the stranger. Turned to look at the smoldering world and the hatred seething in too many eyes. Turned to face himself, herself.
And then another turned. And another. And another. And as they wept, they took each other's hands.
Until whole groups of people were turning. Young and old, gay and straight. People of all colors, all nations, all religions. Turning not only to the pain and hurt but to beauty, gratitude and love, Turning to one another with forgiveness and a longing for peace in their hearts...
-- Christine Fry (October 19, 2004)