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Living in the Ashes: Communal Grief and the North Bay Fires

A Commonweal New School Conversation with Francis Weller

Hosted by Irwin Keller

These last few weeks have seen radical changes in the physical and psychic landscape of Northern California. The fires that began late Sunday night, October 8th, quickly engulfed homes and dreams, woodlands and security. Many of us awoke in the middle of the night to the acrid smell of smoke, sensing that something was wrong. Only later, with the dawn light, were we able to see the extent of this disturbing truth. Clearly, our souls have been shaken by this catastrophic event. Everyone has been affected, whether we lost a loved one, a home, a beloved pet, our place of employment, a trail that we cherished or simply our sense of faith in the ordinary assurances of daily life. No one in our community has been spared the sorrows that have fallen upon us like ash. We are living in a collective field of sorrows that will take a long time to metabolize.

Join TNS host Irwin Keller and guest Francis Weller in sharing thoughts to help us tend our souls during traumatic times. Through poetry, song, simple ritual and our mutual vulnerability, we will create a sudden village to hold what we cannot hold alone.

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Francis Weller, MFT, is a psychotherapist, writer and soul activist. He is a master of synthesizing diverse streams of thought from psychology, anthropology, mythology, alchemy, indigenous cultures and poetic traditions. Author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, and (with Rashani Réa) The Threshold Between Loss and Revelation, he has introduced the healing work of ritual to thousands of people. He founded and directs Wisdom Bridge, an organization that offers educational programs that seek to integrate the wisdom of indigenous cultures with the insights and knowledge gathered from western poetic, psychological and spiritual traditions.

Francis' work was featured in The Sun magazine (October 2015) and the Utne Reader (Fall 2016). He is currently on staff at Commonweal Cancer Help Program, co-leading their week-long retreats with Michael Lerner. He is currently completing his third book, A Trail on the Ground: Living a Soulful Life and Why It Matters.



Earlier Event: November 5
J School Meets
Later Event: November 8
Combatants for Peace Speaking Tour