By Sherry Gobaleza & Erica Hocking
As two Naropa alumni, along with our beloved canine Nala, we are pleased to share stories of a sacred journey with you as we prepare and begin our journey August 1.
This journey is meant to be an act of connection with mother earth and life, a way we can help Naropa to raise monies for student scholarships, and a participatory fieldwork project for our current Ph.D work.
For approximately 6 weeks we will travel by foot through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado via the Colorado Trail. We will begin the walk at the north fork of the South Platte River and after nearly 500 miles, the journey will culminate at the Animus River in Durango, CO.
In August of 2015, a mining spill sent a plume of toxic pollution down Cement Creek outside Silverton, CO to the Animus river and into the San Juan river, throughout the watersheds along the way. This has deeply impacted Indigenous and non-indigenous human communities, and non-human communities. For us this event began an inquiry into the environmental justice issues with mining throughout the world.
A class we took together at Naropa influenced our understanding of mining issues greatly. We took Indigenous Environmental Issues taught, at the time, by Dr. Jeanine Canty. As a class, we learned the importance of researching these issues and taking action to respond to these issues. This is the transformational aspect of spiritual action- the coupling of action in the world with contemplation.
For us, this is a pilgrimage where we will be focusing our awareness and energies on walking prayer, meditation, dream, artistic offerings to place, and tuning in with the earth, ourselves and one another, other people, and many beings who call this land home. We keep at the forefront of our thoughts and words the history of mining both past and present, the history of genocide of Indigenous peoples of this land, and the connection that history has with ongoing environmental injustice today.
Given the many possibilities of despair and psychological paralysis in the face of painful history, and the current effects many are feeling the world over of climate change, we hold deeply in our hearts the longing for a just and loving world where people, non-human species, elements, spirits and land can live in harmony. We recognize the responsibility we have, given our social locations, where we are both oppressor and oppressed, to respond to the ever developing ecological crises arising from injustice the world over.
Our work is focused right now in Colorado, in the wider life-region of the Rocky Mountains we call home. We feel a deep calling to walk with the land and people who will be joining us along the way, to face such important and massive issues with our full embodied attention and to respond in, what is for us, a radical and loving way.
Who we are today is thanks in large part to our education at Naropa and the relationships we have had with our teachers there. Sherry graduated with a B.A. in Interdiscplinary Studies in 2010 and Erica graduated with a B.A. in Traditional Eastern Arts in 2012. Sherry then went on to graduate from the Graduate School of Psychology in 2015 with a M.A. in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology and is now a registered psychotherapist in Boulder, CO. Collectively our Naropa studies spanned about six different disciplines.
In 2009, the two of us met in a Deep Ecology class taught by Dr. Jeanine Canty and have been together ever since. Today, we are both students in a Ph.D program at Pacifica Graduate Institute studying Depth Psychology with emphases in Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology (and unofficially Ethnopsychologies).
Our education and relationships at Naropa have transformed and supported us in very important ways. Probably the most rewarding ongoing lesson of all has been how to look deeply within ourselves while also connecting with social and environmental justice issues in the world, taking action in responsible, creative, spiritual and loving ways to take part in a great transformation toward a more beautiful world. We truly believe that Naropa has something beneficial to offer students who have both local and global aspirations for a better world.
Our ancestors and the land call to us. Our dreams and education have guided us to this pilgrimage. We ask that if you feel inspired to support our journey and are able financially to give, that you please consider an offering to Naropa scholarships.
It is together with your support that we may benefit others who wish to attend Naropa University and may have financial constraints which prevent or make difficult their own journey. We hope our pilgrimage inspires you to donate to Naropa scholarships so that the gift of a Naropa education can be passed along to future generations. We were able to attend Naropa because of the support of people like you and now want to reciprocate the invaluable experience of a Naropa education through this pilgrimage. Thank you for your interest and support!
Stay tuned for more updates from Sherry, Erica & Nala – coming soon!