We Live Because Everything Else Does

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Jean, in her first session with me, talked about how she feels like the proverbial “cuckoo in the nest,” meaning she has never felt like she fit in her family.  “I think I was born into the wrong family. They just don’t get me at all.” That feeling of separation and not belonging is a common theme not just for Jean, but for many of my clients.  

Because of her early experiences, Jean put up walls subconsciously to protect herself from abandonment by her partner and children.  These walls caused her to feel separate and alone.  She often felt resentful that she wasn’t either getting or giving the kind of love she wanted in her family of choice.

This is what my Weaving Webs is all about: working with the fractures or torn threads in the many webs of which we’re a part, including families. I have used Weaving Webs work in my own practice with people, animals, and land. Weaving Webs contributes to mending the relationships between any or all of our relations, be they human, plant, animal, mineral, rock, etc.  

All of life is interdependent

The glaciers are receding, the oceans are rising, and the extinction rate of species of plants and animals is anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate, depending on which scientists you read.  Climate change is accelerating at an alarming pace.

Our use of pesticides is killing the bee population upon which farming depends.  With no bees, there are no crops, and hence no food.  Glyphosate is now being found in alarming levels not only in regular food, but even food that is labeled organic or non-gmo. This pesticide issue is also raising the rates of neurological diseases and cancers.  

The complete interdependence of all life, is becoming clearer.  So is the need for mending or reweaving the places where that interdependence is broken or disconnected, what I call “mending our webs.”   Our planet itself is in peril from the way we humans live our lives in relationship to the earth.

“Have dominion over” is not what the Hebrew says

What I’ve learned from my background in Hebrew Scripture totally surprised me and changed everything about how I look at these issues.  So much of the Western world’s squandering of the world’s resources comes out of a mis-translation or interpretation of the text of Genesis 1.  

The Hebrew word that is translated “have dominion over”  (for example, humans are to have dominion over the birds of the air and the fish of the sea) actually means “to be stewards of.”  There is a huge difference between having dominion over and being stewards.

Stewardship means the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.  If we went beyond that, and truly got the fact that all parts of creation are related – and treated plants, animals, minerals, and rocks as our relations – that would change everything!

The Fear of the Other

But we can’t  begin to get there because we can’t even get to the point where we treat other humans as our relations.  The rise in hatred and fear of anyone who is “Other” or different from ourselves is horrifying — and tears apart the very fabric of society.  

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, all humans are created in the image of God – not just one color or gender or people with one way of life.  In my former field of Hebrew Scriptures, this is stated over and over again. If we really took the idea of our being related to every other human being seriously, we would be engaged in weaving or mending our webs with others instead of fracturing them or destroying them.

Who should you care for?

Not only are we all related, but multiple texts throughout both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, exhort the people to care for those with no protections in society.  The categories used most often are “the widow, the poor, the orphan, and [this is crucial] the resident alien in their midst.”  What that means is that people of faith in the Judeo-Christian tradition are called to take care of the people who are not full citizens.

Over and over again the reason given for this care is that these very same people were once slaves in someone else’s land (Egypt), and God had freed them.  Therefore, their duty was to make sure others were not only free but fully cared for. This was to be the basis for their care of the resident alien.  

If we took that on board, how would that change how we treat the human webs of which we’re a part?  How would that change how we treat the Web of existence?

How far my own nation has come from that founding principle, which is so well represented in the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired and your poor, your yearning to be free…”  We have moved so far away from the ideals on which our society was formed.

“All my Relations”

Richard Wagamese,  an award-winning native Ojibwe writer, speaks to an even bigger issue:  

I’ve been considering the phrase “all my relations” for some time now.
It’s hugely important.  It’s our saving grace in the end. It points to the
truth that we are all related, that we are all connected, that we all
belong to each other.  

The most important word is “all.”  Not just those who look like me, sing
like me, dance like me, speak like me, pray like me or behave like me.
ALL my relations.

That means every person, just as it means every rock, mineral, blade of
grass, and creature.  

We live because everything else does.  If we were to choose collectively to
live that teaching, the energy of our change of consciousness would heal
each of us – and heal the planet.

                                                        —Richard Wagamese, Embers

When we fragment humans into groups and pit those groups against each other, we hurt the whole human race.  More than that, we hurt the planet as a whole.  This is why we need Weaving Webs. Our entire planet is crying out for web weaving.

Returning to Jean

As Jean and I worked together to heal the traumas caused by her feelings of separation and abandonment by her family, she also began healing all her webs.  She recognized that her resentment of her partner and children was a reflection of the fear of abandonment stemming from her family of origin. Once she began healing that fear, she started taking down her walls. 

Next she noticed that she was setting boundaries and asking directly for what she wanted and needed.  When she did, she realized that, contrary to her fears, her whole family had less tension, there was a lot more laughter, and everyone got along much better.  She also found herself being much less critical, and more loving with both her partner and her children.

Her relationships at work also changed for the better.  Focusing on mending one web (her family of origin) ended up healing all her web relationships.  

Jean’s experience exemplifies Wagamese’s point: “We live because everything else does. If we were to choose collectively to live that teaching, the energy of our change of consciousness would heal each of us – and heal the planet.”

Take Action

I encourage each of you to find simple ways to weave your webs, whether with the earth, your families and groups of which you’re a part, or caring for those without rights and protections in your country and the world.  

Do not underestimate the power of even one action taken every day or every week.  Every action you do contributes to the change of consciousness that heals us and the planet.

With love and gratitude for each of you,


PS:   I’m also excited to be offering Weaving Webs online in the near future — keep an eye on your email and my website for more information.

Then, if you would like to explore mending your own webs in individual sessions with me, let’s find a time to talk about that by booking a Discovery Call. 

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  • Karly

    Mary, this is a beautiful post, and touches me deeply. Thank you for the retranslation of dominion as stewardship, and the gorgeous reflection of what it means to treat all living beings as our relations.

    For many, many years, I felt confused by Jesus’ teaching when he commands his disciples to leave their families. It wasn’t until a teacher shared with me about another of Jesus’ teachings (on how you could only charge interest to those who are not your family, or brother ) that I saw this teaching differently. I saw ‘leaving your family’ as a teaching against tribalism – and a teaching for this unitive seeing of seeing and treating everyone as our relations. For everyone is my sister and brother, not simply my biological siblings.

    To then see how this understanding ties into the mending webs process is really interesting!

    Thank you!

    • Mary Shields

      Karly, I am so happy that this touched you. This topic is so dear to my heart, and I am touched by your comments. I especially love your teacher’s interpretation of Jesus’ teaching. I agree that he taught against tribalism — and more: he consistently included those whom his society deemed outcasts or not good enough — both in his teaching and his healing work. He truly modeled Weaving Webs — and that all living beings are our relations. This work is so important for us to take forward. Thank you for your insightful reflections!

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