Die Wise – A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul is his book about grief, and dying, and the great love of life. (2015 Nautilus Award Winner video link) Dying well is not a matter of enlightened self-interest or personal preference. Dying well must become an obligation that living people and dying people owe to each other and to those to come. Die Wise teaches the skills of dying, skills that have to be learned in the course of living deeply and well. Not a seven step coping strategy, not an out-clause for trauma or sorrow, Die Wise is for everyone who, hell or high water, is not going to pull off eternity after all. Dying is not the end of wisdom and wisdom not exhausted by dying. Dying could be and must be the fullest expression and incarnation of what you’ve learned by living. It’s a moral obligation to die well. If you love somebody, if you care about the world that’s to come after you, if you want somebody to be spared the lunacy of what you’ve seen, you’ve got to die wise.
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.
Night of Grief & Mystery Concert on Friday April 20th This will be a concert of sorts, because he has Gregory Hoskins and Band to lend their music and 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. What would you call such a thing? Nights of Grief & Mystery. Purchase Nights of Grief & Mystery CD – link
Stephen Jenkinson, MTS, MSW Spiritual Activist, Author
Stephen teaches internationally and is the creator and principal instructor of the Orphan Wisdom School founded in 2010. With Master’s degrees from Harvard University (Theology) and the University of Toronto (Social Work) he is redefining what it means to live, and die well. Apprenticed to a master storyteller, he has worked extensively with dying people and their families, is former program director in a major Canadian hospital, former assistant professor in a prominent Canadian medical school, consultant to palliative care and hospice organizations and educator and advocate in the helping professions.
He is also a sculptor, traditional canoe builder whose house won a Governor General’s Award for architecture.
He is the author of Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul (a book about grief, and dying, and the great love of life, released March 2015), How it All Could Be: A work book for dying people and those who love them(2009) and Money and The Soul’s Desires: A Meditation (2002). He was also a contributing author to Palliative Care – Core Skills and Clinical Competencies(2007).
Stephen Jenkinson is the subject of Griefwalker, a National Film Board of Canada film (2008). video trailer Griefwalker, directed by Tim Wilson is a lyrical, poetic portrait of Stephen Jenkinson’s work with dying people. Filmed over a twelve year period, Griefwalker shows Jenkinson in teaching sessions with doctors and nurses, in counselling sessions with dying people and their families, and in meditative and often frank exchanges with the film’s director while paddling a birch bark canoe about the origins and consequences of his ideas for how we live and die.
Stephen Jenkinson’s new book COME OF AGE: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble is scheduled to be released in June 2018.
“Getting older is inevitable, becoming an elder is a skill. ” The sages seem to be departing. Elections enthrone Change, that’s all. The tribal lines deepen. And there’s the weather, and the waters. The appearance of it all is this: We’d rather be defeated than persuaded. Perhaps we will be. In a time like this, contemplation tethered to the troubled world is courageous. Contemplative sorrow: that’s the kind that is willing to learn the trouble of its time in a way that principled anxiety is not. Contemplation worthy of the troubled time: that is something to bequeath to the young among us. Unvanquished give-a-shit: that is something the old among us might be nourished to see.
Trade faith and hope for a stranger love of life, one that befriends the darkening sky by learning it. We might yet craft an eloquence that serves the terrible beauty we are about to bequeath to the young. Consequence, after all, is the true companion of grown ups. At the foot of the withering World Tree, for young folk and old folk, for elders in training. The Making of Humans video clip