My conscious quest for inner peace began when I was 18 years old after a transcendent experience in which I spontaneously experienced a peace beyond my life circumstances. I spent the next 15 years on a spiritual quest exploring the aspects of peace that expanded and reached beyond my life and the world.

My greatest solace was gazing into the eyes of a photo I have of Ramana Maharshi, a revered Indian saint. He passed away in 1950, yet his living transmission of eternal silence is alive to this day. Every time I gaze into his eyes, they dance with a silent and vast purity. What I wasn’t aware of during this period of my life was how easy it was for me to jump to peace and jump over my human feelings and experience. Peace became an unconscious armor against the darkness that encapsulated my awareness from the horrors and heartbreak of this world.

The world now is crying for peace. Eventually, peace as an armoring against feelings had to be shed in my own life. I was guided into a depth of a dark night journey, which I truly believe we are all experiencing as a collective dark night of our times. A wild light of soul was birthed from the darkness. It arose from my broken open heart and the fertile grounds of grief. Or in the wise words of Francis Weller, in his book, "The Wild Edge of Sorrow," “Grief is alive, wild, untamed, and cannot be domesticated. It resists the demands to remain passive and still. We move in jangled, unsettled and riotous ways when grief takes hold of us. It is truly an emotion that rises from soul.”

In the depths of the mystery of soul grief lives a sacred marriage. The conscious embrace of grief made peace sparkle with life and passion. The waters of grief busted open my little monotone box where "peace" had once lived. Martin Pretchel, another teacher on soul and grief, shared on how the embrace of grief is essential to peace. Unmetabolized grief becomes violence.

It can be easy to get stuck in paralysis or overwhelmed in the unbelievable chaos of our times. We don’t have time to process one thing before we hear of another act of violence. Learning to grieve and grieve together is an essential gateway into divine peace, passion and love in action to protect our world.

Last October, while on my yearly pilgrimage to Peru, I heard a story about the divine grief of Andean creator God, Wiracocha. Wiracocha is the great womb of mystery that birthed all of creation. Legends say Wiracochca comes at times of great transition to check on his/her creation. He/she comes dressed up in the rags and lives as a homeless person on the street. Often disregarded as a wild person, he/she checks on the goodness of his/her creation by how people are taking care of the homeless, voiceless and denigrated populations. The creator weeps for his/her creation when we aren’t taking care of each other.

The legend goes on to share that if we don’t hear and respond to the cries of the divine, then these tears will drown us all in a flood. The legends of past flood exist in cultures all over the world. If we do hear and respond to this sacred cry, we can transform our lives and birth a world that lives in praise of our sacred Earth.

This myth isn’t meant to be a morbid tale, but rather a story of a depth of potential that is available through the collective dark night of our times. When we take the mythic journey consciously, we can birth one of the most mysterious of mercies where divine grief and joy unite in an undying transfiguring glory. This peace-filled passion breaks us free from the isolation from hyper-individualism and helps to restore the bonds of soul communion from the depths of an all-inclusive reality.

Courtney Dukelow is an activist, healer, writer and soul guide. She is facilitating a one-day ceremonial grief ritual from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 18. To find out more about this ritual and her work, contact her at courtneydukelow@gmail.com or call 541-535-2186. You can also visit her website at www.courtneydukelow.com.