Opening Windows to Wonder

An exhibition of images celebrating
Regenerative Design Institute's fourteen years in a healing garden

Photographs by James Stark

View slideshow with music
While the nature of the universe remains a mystery, we know enough to deeply appreciate the uniqueness of this planetary garden of life we call Earth. The explosion of life that has taken place over the last 3.8 billion years is breathtaking, and an infinite source of wonder.

One of the most engaging mysteries in this living 13.7 billion year unfoldment is the significance of the relatively recent evolution of our human life on the planet.

For millions of years, we WERE nature; all of her miraculous forms of life were our teacher, our mother, our inspiration, our infinite source of spiritual wonder, our sense of belonging, our home.

Human evolution has been impressive. However, as our numbers increased and our ability to radically shape the garden grew, we have come to see ourselves as separate from nature and the ecology of who we are. As a result of this disconnect we have become a threat to the very fabric of this Earth garden of life and our selves.

We are at a critical moment some are describing as “the great turning”: we are challenged to face the destructive nature of our modern way of life and the urgency to transition into living in harmony with and support of our Earth home.

So how do we personally and collectively make that transition?

How do we penetrate our habitual membrane of knowing and disconnection to open windows to wonder and the miracle of life, the field of all possibilities?

As Leonard Cohen wrote, “There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.”

This exhibition is a reflection of our last 14 years in the Commonweal Garden and the over 6,000 people who have experienced the sanctuary through programs offered by Regenerative Design Institute. Those who spent time in the garden discovered, one by one, those cracks and opened windows into joy, play, healing, grieving, wonder, creativity and, finally, visions of a new dream of the Earth.

The show is a blending of photographs and personal stories of the Garden’s teachers: the animals, plants and insects, and the people who danced into various ways of learning in the Garden. A celebration to those who experienced the healing that comes from envisioning a new regenerative way of living and in engaging in the skills to make that happen in their lives and their communities.

We hope you will enjoy this story. We also hope that you will join us in celebrating that the Garden will continue as a learning and healing sanctuary as Natura Institute for Ecology and Medicine, under the leadership of Anna O’Malley, MD. We will be taking RDI to its new home on Whidbey Island in Washington, where we will join two other Commonweal programs. Penny and I will continue our engagement with the Garden as we will return to teach with Anna in some of Natura’s programs.

We wish to recognize and honor the original people who cared for this land for thousands of years and their teachings that have guided us in how to care and tend this sacred Earth garden. With deep humility we express our gratitude to all of our teachers who have shared their wisdom with us so generously.

Finally we wish to thank Michael Lerner and the Commonweal Community for entrusting us with the Garden and being a constant source of support. It takes a community to tend a garden and we are deeply grateful to all of the people who rolled up their sleeves and worked and played with us, and those whose donations kept the sanctuary gate open.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Penny and James