We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
After a lifetime of exploration to find, name, and live into a new story, first for myself and later for humanity, I have come to discover that the New Story is not new. Our understanding of it and our telling of it are relatively new, but the story itself is the story of Life and older than anything else we know and intrinsic to who and what we are. In fact, in retrospect, I began living into it the moment I stepped onto Findhorn ground in 1978. For the Findhorn experiment of finding and living a new relationship with the living world is central to the New Story.
While I didn’t start there — and most of us don’t — I have come to see the wisdom of Buckminster Fuller’s “Start with the Universe”. At its core, the New Story of our era emerges out of our changing understanding of the essential nature of the Universe and our place in it. While it will not be lost on the indigenous peoples among us, we Western-raised folk are finally coming to recognize that we live in a living universe and we are embedded in it, one of it and one with it. Duane Elgin’s The Living Universe is the seminal work noting the difference.
It is ironic and perhaps evolutionarily inevitable that the mechanisms by which we can be aware that we live in a living universe grew out of the very science that is rapidly becoming our old story, even though it was itself the new story of the last paradigm shift. 500 years ago, when Copernicus first began to postulate that the earth revolved around the sun, and not the other way around, it was so shocking to the prevailing belief system and religious doctrine that it took 200 years before the Catholic Church finally recognized the truth of his observations.
My hope is that it will not take us another 200 years to change the story to a newer one that both transcends and includes the gifts wrought by our imagined separateness from Earth and a belief that the universe is a mechanistic clock winding down. Scientific materialism has given us the very tools to become conscious that we are in fact not separate from what we observe and that it really is, as Bioneers says, “all alive, all intelligent, all connected and all relatives.”
While it may be simple to say that the New Story of the Universe is the fundamental belief system change, its implications are anything but simple to enact. If we’re all connected and related, how does that change our relationship with each other at all levels? If it’s all intelligent and alive, how does that change our relationship with Earth and all life? We know that Life is successful, Life generates healthy systems, Life works. So how does Life do it?
This has become my guiding inquiry. Biomimicry has given us new designs that follow nature for creating everything from Velcro to energy efficient buildings. But how does nature do change? What is Life’s story for transformation? And once we begin to recognize these life-affirming processes, how do we bring them into our families, our communities, our institutions, and our cultures?
This has been my work with New Stories over the past many years, which has led to the creation of a wiki to begin to name some of these Great Transition Stories. And this is the work we are grappling with in this Summit week together. How do we tell the stories of how Life works in whole systems, in harmony, and in collaboration in such a way that helps inspire people and offers pathways for living into these new ways of being?
We are not the first to postulate the questions or the answers. As we come together, we ride on a rising wave of storytellers, cultural magicians and pioneering social artists who have been learning and teaching the New Story for decades: Thomas Berry, Robert Gilman, Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker, and Richard Tarnas. Joseph Campbell, David Spangler, Barbara Marx Hubbard and Donella Meadows. Joanna Macy, Margaret Wheatley, Angeles Arrien, and Bob Stilger. I could never name them all, for there are so many and they are everywhere among us.
We have come a long way from Thomas Berry’s statement in 1978:
It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it is no longer functioning properly and we have not yet learned the New Story.
We know it’s a question of story and we have learned a great deal of what the New Story is. We’re even on the brink of the New Story meme going viral. Our work will be living into it, sharing each other’s stories of what’s working, and together imagining ever more creative ways to communicate it to our friends, families, colleagues and countries.
In closing, I want to share the work of Elizabeth Rabia Roberts in naming some of what we now know are the New Story’s core principles, which have been posted to the companion blog, ‘Principles of the New Paradigm: An Unbroken Wholeness’.
Lynnaea Lumbard, Ph.D., Co-President of New Stories, is a transformational psychologist, interfaith minister, wilderness guide, community weaver, social artist and strategic philanthropist. Her current work is curating newstories.org to name, amplify and disseminate new stories and practices for a life-affirming future. When not writing or speaking, she engages with small collaborative teams to support, strengthen, and synergize the burgeoning New Story movement.