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Byron Shire
March 9, 2021

Renew with Stephen Jenkinson, May 10, 11

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Luke Jaaniste

Internationally renowned author Stephen Jenkinson will soon visit Mullumbimby, speaking on some of the biggest personal and social dynamics we will need to embrace in an age of climate crisis: elderhood and grief.

Having toured the Northern Rivers on two previous occasions — the last one being a sellout event with many dozens turned away at the door — Jenkinson is proudly hosted this year by Renew Fest.

Jenkinson, from Canada, is a teacher, author, storyteller, spiritual activist, and farmer. He is the focus of the 2008 award-winning documentary Griefwalker. He is also founder of the Orphan Wisdom School, a teaching house and learning house for the skills of deep living and making human culture.

Renew Fest director Ella Rose Goninan says it is a deep honour to host Jenkinson and believes he brings a unique perspective to the local community.

‘Stephen Jenkinson is a profound teacher, and meets the conversation right in the heart of matters without apology. 

‘The lack of acknowledgment of our human need to grieve and the absence of a strong force of elders in this time, speaks volumes to me of the roots of the current climate crisis.’

Roots of wisdom

Nirado Griffin, a local Orphan Wisdom scholar, is one of the many who are looking forward to what might be the Griefwalker’s final tour to Australia.

‘Stephen Jenkinson provokes wondering, deep down into the origins of things and into the very roots of our culture. By examining our language, our assumptions, and the inheritance of an almost universally traumatised ancestry, he exposes the shattered remnants of a culture adrift from its heritage, from its right relationship to all of life and from the guidance and wisdom of elders.’

Jenkinson inspires many with his equally poetic and direct words.

Nirado adds, ‘Imagine a future that replaces retirement with esteemed elderhood, where young people receive recognition of their worth and purpose, and see living examples of enduring discernment and courage for the hard and often empty times that are upon us all.’

Jenkinson also expresses with much passion and beauty that grief must be part of any mission to create a regenerative future.

‘Grief is the human angel in the world… Grief is the willingness to be claimed by a story bigger than the one you wish for.’

Jenkinson will present two talks in Mullumbimby in May, on elderhood (Friday night May 10) and grief (Saturday morning May 11) to be followed by a 30-hour Vigil For Grief, hosted by Renew Fest. Tickets will likely sell out – for more info go to www.renewfest.org.au.

♦ Luke Jaaniste is a musician and part of the Renew Fest programming team.

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  1. “Good grief”, well no, grief is not good at all for the body and soul. Grief destabilises the emotions and the soul and can put people into depression.
    In an awkward way, you feel it is as if someone has reached into your heart and stolen your well being like a thief. And that is indeed the feeling of grief as it is about losing a loved one, someone very dear and close to you, just as close to you as you are to yourself, the lost person, the person you loved. They are gone and departed this life and they have left you all alone. The other half, the psychological half of you has gone and there needs to be a healing..
    The feeling is debilitating for when you are old you have not the youth and exuberance to spring back into life like younger people. It takes time and you need other people around you to replace that loved one who has left you. Time will heal the hole that has been placed into your emotional and spiritual life.

  2. In a grief denying society like ours I deny grief at great personal, cultural and existential cost.
    Listen to Jenkinson with an open heart and mind his illuminating talks are based on his life’s work providing palliative care to 1,000’s


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