<i>Penthos</i>: The Gift of Tears

Douglas E. Christie

in The Blue Sapphire of the Mind

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199812325
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979745 | DOI:
Penthos: The Gift of Tears

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This chapter addresses the following question: What does it mean to open oneself to grief, to consider it as a critical part of the work of coming to know and care for the natural world. It begins by situating Aldo Leopold's insight within the context of a larger conversation concerning the role of tears and mourning in the work of spiritual transformation. Many spiritual traditions place high value on the role of grief and mourning in facilitating both personal and communal transformation. One such tradition, arising from the world of ancient Christian monasticism, gives particular attention to how tears—understood as a gift—can open up the soul and create the possibility of a more authentic relationship to the divine and to others. The chapter then draws upon the classic work of Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich, The Inability to Mourn, to consider the consequences, for persons and for entire societies, of the suppression of grief. Finally, it considers what it might mean to integrate the practice of mourning more fully into our relationship with the natural world and how such practice might help us learn to see and respond to the world more honestly and deeply.

Keywords: Aldo Leopold; grief; natural world; mourning; spiritual transformation; The Inability to Mourn; Alexander Mitscherlich; Margarete Mitscherlich

Chapter.  15248 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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