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Packing a Spiritual Go-bag in Hard Times

One Earth will be publishing a new book before the end of the year, Prion: Parrots, pandemics, and promise-makers. It’s a futuristic fable with zombie and apocalyptic overtones, and you can hear the first chapter in a dramatic reading at our Virtual Halloween Party and FUNdraiser. The book is also about the possibility of how we might live into a loving and multicultural world, and so I mentioned it a colleague with whom we ally on decolonizing practices in conservation. He immediately got excited, saying, “I have got to read that! I have my zombie apocalyptic team all picked out and my zombie go-bag is all packed.”

A go-bag is a pre-packed collection of items you might need upon hearing sudden news and needing to travel immediately. In these hard times it certainly does seem at times that we all need a go-bag. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, due to the urge many of us may have to run away from the reality that so much of life on earth is at risk with the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, extinction, pandemics, economic oppression, and the list goes on, and on. The go-bag is something you can rely on when you are about to lose everything.

What then would a spiritual go-bag contain? This may include a collection of items you fall back on when you realize that everything will be lost, for we all die and lose loving relationships, and suffering and grief cannot be avoided in this life. What if you could let go of all expectations of what life should be like, and could just travel lightly into the future, taking with you only what you needed to meet your spiritual needs? What would you take?

Here are some possible suggestions:

  • Chocolate

  • A musical instrument – I would take a harmonica and a recorder. They are light and can be played solo, or with my apocalyptic team

  • Lyrics and sheet music or a recording to a song that centers. There are so many to choose from! I am thinking of “The Way of the Bodhisattva,” from the Great Vow Zen Center, and maybe Dolly Parton’s, “I Will Always Love You”

  • A spiritual text – I would take the Conference of the Birds, a Sufi text by Farid ud-Din Attar, and a collection of Mary Oliver Poems

  • A novel – I would take Lord of the Rings and The River Why.

  • A notebook for journaling and pens that write in colorful ink

  • More chocolate

  • Pictures in print of family, friends, and colleagues

  • Several feathers to remind me that beauty is ever-present

  • A stuffed animal to hold and be held by

What else can you think of? And what kind of bag would you use?

This practice of packing a spiritual go-bag lightened my spirit, for it helped me realize that there is not much I need other than a spiritual centering, an orientation of loving and letting go, and of course, a good apocalyptic team (stay tuned for that in a future blog).

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