Joy Gribble on integrating the Universe Story into daily life – part 1

Joy Gribble is the wife of Tom Gribble, a prior Sophia student, and the full time mother of two young boys (3 ½ and 1 ½) with another child due in February. This young woman has taken the Universe Story and literally woven it into their basic family values, creating a strong bond with Earth and Nature. You will read not only the unfolding of Joy’s life and her early introduction to the new cosmology but also her ongoing daily focus in parenting two young boys. She and her husband hone their parenting skills everyday with intention and humor under the mantra of Thomas Berry’s ‘think globally, act locally’ — all the while guiding their sons into the wisdom of the Universe.

Joy graduated from the Sophia weekend program in May 2002 and currently lives with her family in the Bay Area.

So, where are you today?
Everything I do, every fabric of my existence, is influenced by the new cosmology. Please give some everyday examples of how it impacts your daily living. My whole family is vegan. Not eating meat or dairy is so much better for the environment and for our bodies. It has not been a challenge since it is all that my sons know and they love our unusual diet. My older son knows he is an herbivore like the cows and zebras and elephants and he thinks it’s fantastic! We go to the farmers market each week to support the local farmers and the boys walk away with stained cheeks from all the berries they devour. We have also dabbled in gardening over the last few years using the square foot gardening method, which is great for gardening in the city. This year we grew strawberries, sweet peas, basil, eggplant, cilantro, mint, rosemary, onions, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, squash, tangerines, and grapefruit. Not everything grew well, but it is great to see our children learn the different stages of plants and get excited when a little squash pops out from under a yellow flower. We think it is important that they know where their food comes from.

Are there other ways that the Universe Story informs the choices that you and Tom make in your family life?
Yes, we spend much of our day outside, rain or shine, and the children have been hiking since they were born. They have learned not to harm any living being because they know life is sacred. They also love the creatures that are typically vilified, like spiders, ants, worms, and vultures, because they know each creature has a critical role in maintaining the balance of the planet. If we see bugs in our house, we are honored and thank them for coming by!

The rhythms of Nature hold the framework of the Story, do you agree?
Most definitely! We celebrate the equinoxes and solstices, know the full moons, and live in tune with the cycles of the seasons and with nature. We bake a healthy dessert on full moon evenings and go on a full moon walk, leaving the treat outside for it to absorb the last ingredient…moonlight! Moonlight makes everything taste deliciously sweet! (Although my son does know that moonlight is actually sunlight.) Giving the boys an accurate context for where they are, what they eat, how their bodies’ work, and where things come from (like paper and water) is very important to us. For instance, they know the sun doesn’t actually set but instead Earth spins out of the sun’s light — each birthday is another completed trip around the sun, marked by blowing out our mini suns candles.

The way you have integrated the new cosmology into your children’s everyday lives is beautiful and quite remarkable.
Our culture is inundated with messages of violence and apathy, even for children, so we are careful about what books we choose. The only times they’ve watched television was to watch President Obama be sworn in or view home videos. For a while I think my older son thought he and Obama were the only ones on TV! Characters like Dora and Elmo and Spiderman are ubiquitous in the world and we try to keep their exposure to that to a minimum and have the boys invent their own worlds, which are much more fascinating!

How have you addressed religion in the boys’ lives?
We haven’t introduced Jesus to them yet, as the stories most of our culture tells about him are laden with inaccuracies and messages that we don’t want the boys to adopt. They do know about Buddha and his teachings. Tom and I plan to expose them to many spiritual leaders who can help forge them a path toward conscious living.

Children being children, you must have moments when you are a bit baffled about how to appropriately answer the many questions asked by your sons?
Everything has to settle deep within me before I answer the questions asked by my children. My oldest has asked about death, pre-birth, which creatures were the first to walk on Earth and how did life begin. I’m sure these questions are only beginning! Correct context is so important, as Thomas Berry would say, and a great answer always seems to be hidden within the Universe Story.

I understand that you have written beautiful children’s stories from this context.
Yes, I have written a series of 12 books based on the new cosmology and The Universe Story. I sent them to a few publishers and didn’t find any interest. I wrote them as a way to express myself without holding onto the thought that they may one day would be marketed. Therefore, I now see that I’d need to make some changes that could help bridge their contents with what the majority of the culture understands of the world.

How have you influenced others with the Sophia philosophy?
I am living it with my children. They exude it more brilliantly than I ever could. It brings me to tears just thinking about it, how gentle they are with pill bugs, how excited they are by picking apples off trees, how moved they are by seeing a wild animal cross our path. It is not forced; they don’t have to be reminded. Gandhi said to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Hopefully we five, meaning my husband and me and our three sons, will do that within the context of the new story.

The Sophia experience has clearly moved you onto a different path. Toward where are you heading?
I am almost finished with my psychotherapy license. Eventually I’d like to return to the workforce as a children’s therapist, using the natural principles of Earth and the Universe as my context. We are nature, yet we continue to try to separate ourselves from it. The principles that move in nature also dance within our own psyches. We have cycles, rhythms —and we innately know how to bring ourselves back into balance. In many ways, children are victims in our contemporary culture. I hope to work with children who are out of balance and help them see how brilliant their lives really are, within the context of a 14 billion year story.

Any final thoughts that you would like to share?
Yes. I wanted to mention that there are definitely challenges. Now my family is being invited to Batman-themed birthday parties with toxic cakes and plastic guns falling out of piñatas! Our home was inundated with ants for three months this summer, literally thousands a day. I think we were the “safe house” because everyone else around was calling Orkin. There are certain things we refuse to do as a family, such as eat meat, accept plastic or paper bags from stores, or use chemicals that are not biodegradable. Therefore, we struggle a lot. We also have very few like-minded friends. Although our friends are very sensitive to our lifestyle and accepting, no one eagerly accepts Equinox dinner invites! In the end, my husband and I find our resolve through laughter. He was flicking ants off his ears WEEKS after they had left — he called it post traumatic ant disorder — and it was funny! It is pretty funny when we frantically try to snatch all the plastic guns out of the goody bags before my sons evaluate their stash. And when we forget our canvas bags at Target and ask the cashier to put everything back in the cart with no bags, the look on their face is priceless. We just try to find the humor in the trying.

Interview by Kitty Nagler

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