Bayo Akomolafe: The Spaces Between

Bayo Akomolafe: The Spaces Between

Februrary 18, 2018
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Timberlake Earth Sanctuary
1501 Rock Creek Dairy Road
Whitsett, NC 27377

Cost: $50.00

Led by Morgan Josey Glover

Our payment process will only allow us to register one person at a time. If you are making a payment on behalf of someone else, please send an e-mail to Center Director, Peggy Whalen-Levitt, at with the name and address of the person(s) who you are registering so that we can send them an acknowledgment letter that will serve as their admittance ticket. Thank you!

We invite you to an afternoon conversation inspired by the work of Bayo Akomolafe, author of These Wilds Beyond our Fences: Letters to My Daughter on Humanity’s Search for Home.

The invitation that Bayo Akomolafe extends to us through his writing and teaching is that of intimacy with darkness, the "spaces between," and that which most haunts us. That is a thread that is woven throughout his work – that of seeing grief, bewilderment, and darkness as resources rather than solely obstacles or means to an end. As Bayo often says, "We are coming down to earth. We will not arrive intact."

Bayo, who invites us to explore “other places of power,” is an example of the "shamanic personality" that Thomas Berry says is most needed in these times: 

"This intimacy with our genetic endowment, and through this endowment with the larger cosmic process, is not primarily the role of the philosopher, the priest, prophet or professor. It is the role of the shamanic personality, a type that is emerging again in our society . . . If the supreme disaster in the comprehensive story of the earth is our present closing down of the major life systems of the planet, then the supreme need of our times is to bring about a healing of the earth through this mutually enhancing human presence to the earth community. To achieve this mode of presence, a new type of sensitivity is needed, a sensitivity that is something more than romantic attachment to some of the more brilliant manifestations of the natural world, a sensitivity that comprehends the larger patterns of nature, its severe demands as well as its delightful aspects, and is willing to see the human diminish so that other lifeforms might flourish." (The Dream of the Earth, 211-212)

As Berry wrote, the sensitivity that is needed is not that which characterizes the ecological romantic, but one with the bravery to face the tragic nature of existence directly. 

Bayo Akomolafe is a new voice guiding us into these dark, pregnant realms. He discourages us from relying on certain idealistic conceptions of nature (in his words, "nature with a halo"), which can blind us to opportunities for engagement. He writes, "Perhaps what we are warned against is the tendency to fixate on a particular notion of nature. While we need stabilities to survive, to make sense of things, nature cannot be still. It moves. It disturbs itself. Ancient alchemists adopted the symbol of the Ouroboros or the snake devouring its own tail to show how creation arises out of destruction and vice versa. How life itself is errancy."

He also invites us to comprehend intelligence and creativity as not originating with the human, but with the world as a whole. He invites us to understand that it's not just humans who are intuiting, imagining or contemplating. It is the world intuiting, contemplating and imagining through various forms, including trees, clouds, stones, bacteria, seagulls and humans. Thus, gratitude stems from a deep recognition that it's not primarily up to humans to solve our ecological crises (as Thomas Berry wrote, we need an earth solution to an earth problem). The world is still pondering, experimenting, shifting, questing. And we are privileged to be part of that grand, messy adventure. 

Being present to the natural world means not just being present to its beauty, creativity and wholeness, but also to its incoherence, indifference, violence, awkwardness and preposterousness.

Morgan Josey Glover was introduced to Bayo Akomolafe’s work through his course, “We Will Dance with Mountains,” and maintains dialogue with him through personal correspondence. Morgan lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. She has been on a path of discovering her place in the earth community since encountering the work of Thomas Berry and other cultural visionaries a decade ago. She previously wrote about green living and sustainability at the News & Record and has facilitated related discussion groups at Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. She now considers herself an apprentice to the plant world and her bioregion. A former journalist, Morgan works as a communications specialist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“We are coming down to earth. We will not arrive intact.”

~ Bayo Akomolafe