Love Letter to the Field: Inner-Change Leading to Collective Transformation: Silence, Shadows, and Slowing Down

November 02, 2023

Inner-Change Leading to Collective Transformation: Silence, Shadows, and Slowing Down

A Love Letter to Our Field

By Dr. Eva Marie Shivers

November 2023

As many of you know, Indigo Justice Center is part of the Healing Justice movement. One of the tenets of Healing Justice that we continue to explore in all aspects of our work is INTERDEPENDENCE. We look to guidance from the  Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective as they share what they’ve learned (and what we’ve ALWAYS known through indigenous and traditional ways) about interdependence in Healing Justice spaces. One of their values is this:

“We necessitate that humans are in harmony and build intentional relationship with the natural world rather than dominating the natural world.”



For the past 5 years, I have been focused on my own understanding of what it means to get into ‘right relationship with the land.’ For me, part of what’s unfolding is that I need to (re)learn how to listen to what the natural world is whispering to me / us all the time.  

One of the other major influencers in our work at Indigo is author, artist, activist, and healer, adrienne maree brown. She frames our learning to listen to the natural world as “emergent strategy.” I really like that word, emergent. It brings to mind, heart, and body the notion that our collective transformation towards social justice and liberation is fluid, cyclical, and always unfolding. In her book, Emergent Strategy (p. 3), brown tells us:

“Emergence is one way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions….It is another way of speaking about the connective tissue of all that exists.”

This way of understanding the social justice movement gaining momentum in the early childhood field is useful for considering our daily actions and interactions and wondering if our efforts are making a difference. When we orient towards emergence, we amplify our awareness that it is through our small actions, networks, reflective groups, critical self-awareness exercises, etc. that we start to create more “complex systems, patterns that become ecosystems and societies” (brown, p. 3, Emergent Strategy). 

Indeed, we can see examples of the critical connections that lead to emergent transformation any time we go outside!  We see it in how birds fly and migrate together, we see it in the deep, vast networks of mushrooms (fungi), we see it in the way water flows around rocks.

So as the weather turns cooler here in the unceded lands of the Hohokam and Tohono O’odham Nation (Phoenix, AZ), I’m recognizing my own body’s parallel season of wanting to prepare for hibernation, to rest in the shadows, to silence the noise around me. I’m trying to listen. For those of us in the western hemisphere, the shortening of daylight, the position of the moon, the falling leaves are whispering to all of us that it’s time to slow down, prepare to rest and retreat. 



Does this mean we are walking away from our liberation work? No! On the contrary. One of my favorite musical artists these days, Toni Jones, has a song that I’ve been listening to a lot lately. It’s called, Womaning in Silence. There are so many juicy nuggets of healing affirmation in this song. Several nuggets that spoke to me last night as my dog and I were watching the rising full moon (the Hunter’s Moon) were:


“I pace myself. Knowing I am being summoned to sit for a moment. Through silence I am being prepared to become a catalyst for change….

There are mysteries that are revealed to me in the big quiet: what noise do I dance to? What noise does my agenda attach to – daily?…

The doing dharma is collapsing. The revolution of being is unfolding in me. I’m silencing….” 


We all joke about what happens this time of the year. In our early childhood field we tend to rush and urgently hustle to complete last-minute meetings, events, deadlines, etc. Oh – and then there are the many holidays and social events we pile onto the doing of the most. Well…


—What might happen if we try to shift those trends? 

—What are you able to RESIST this season as the natural world beckons you to get still and go within? 

—What happens with our social justice agenda when we incorporate this way of being in harmony with the natural world? 

I invite you to join me in allowing your own internal emergent process to flow with the natural season in your own land-based ecosystem. What might you hear? What might we all hear? The world needs us to listen.


“As above, so below; as below, so above” (The Kybalion).