Night of Grief and Mystery
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Stephen Jenkinson and Gregory Hoskins – UK Tour 2017
Stephen is a Harvard Educated Theologian, Culture Activist, founder of The Orphan Wisdom School, author of Die Wise A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, and subject of a National Film Board of Canada documentary, Griefwalker.
Die Wise is Stephen's award-winning book about grief, and dying, and the great love of life.
He brings teachings of the ramshackling kind, about honour and grace under pressure, about elderhood in an age of age-intolerance, about the withering World Tree, about how we might learn our darkening times.
This will be a concert of sorts, because he has Gregory Hoskins to lend his music and his road-tested grace to the cause. This evening will be part poetry, part lamentation, part book reading, part ribaldry, part lifting the mortal veil and learning the mysteries there; that's what's in store.
Picture it: A storyteller. A band. An evening of mongrel sorrow, dappled by magic and wonder, fringed with regard for the gift of the tongue, harkening and hortatory and bardic and greying, steeped in mortal mystery, uprooted from its uncertain home in the North of America. What would you call such a thing? Nights of Grief & Mystery.
With lyrical prose, deep wisdom, and stories from his two decades of working with dying people and their families, Stephen places death at the center of the page and asks us to behold it in all its painful beauty.
Die Wise teaches the skills of dying, skills that have to be learned in the course of living deeply and well. Die Wise is for those who will fail to live forever. Dying well, Jenkinson writes, is a right and responsibility of everyone. It is a moral, political, and spiritual obligation each person owes their ancestors and their heirs. It is not a lifestyle option. It is a birthright and a debt.
Die Wise dreams such a dream, and plots such an uprising. How we die, how we care for dying people, and how we carry our dead: this work makes our village life, or breaks it.
For years Harvard Educated Culture Activist, Stephen Jenkinson headed the counselling team of Canada's largest home-based palliative care programme. He was assistant professor at a prominent medical school. Working with hundreds of dying people and their families, care-givers, nurses, doctors and social workers, he witnessed a 'wretched anxiety' at the end of life, and paid professionals stymied by it all. His inquiry led him to examine the dominant culture.
The documentary film Griefwalker was made about his work. He taught what he saw and learned. Then he wrote about it all. In 2010 Stephen founded of The Orphan Wisdom School.
The 2015 tour for the award winning book DIE WISE: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul brought Stephen's work to audiences around the world. People came, jammed doorways and stood on chairs and lingered long afterwards, unwilling it seemed to go back to a home unchanged by an unlikely evening of mortal mystery. The tour has continued through all of 2016, and shows no sign of coming to its senses.
Nothing in what Stephen does, conjured in one little corner of this world, seems to favour translation to anywhere else, not to him. Nevertheless, invitations cross the threshold, and the honour is his, and the troubles of these days seem to ask that once in a while he goes out again beyond where he might belong.
Watch these beautiful short introductory films about the life and work of Stephen Jenkinson: