On Saturday, June 19th, a group of us in the Washington/Portland area met at a clear cut near Lake Merwin damn to honor Mother Earth and celebrate Beauty as part of the worldwide effort that was envisioned by Radical Joy for Hard Times. This is from their web site:
Radical Joy for Hard Times introduces a new, more intimate environmentalism for all citizens of the Earth. Together we go to wounded places to bear witness to what has happened, share the stories of our experience, discover beauty even in the midst of wound and waste, and create Acts of Beauty there.Our local gathering was organized and facilitated by Judy Todd of NatureConnect Excursions and Julie Doll. Sacred space was created by prayer flags and silence as we walked into the clear cut area. Once there, with a stunning view of the valley, a drumming circle invited us in to being present to this holy land. With the discarded gun shells, the empty beer cans, the garbage, and the Beauty. During our time together we walked the land, sang together, shared our stories, drummed, read poetry, and made offerings to Mother Earth for her healing. We picked up trash (including a car fender) as you can see in the photo above. We bore witness to this wounded place and created radical Acts of Beauty. I was surprised to discover that although there had been violence perpetrated upon this hillside, there was life emerging amidst the ruins. The very smallest of creatures and wildflowers were finding there way back. This gave me hope. I brought this poem by Wendell Berry which always moves me to tears:
by Wendell Berry
If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
if we will make our seasons welcome here,
asking not too much of earth or heaven,
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides, fields and gardens
rich in the windows. The river will run
clear, as we will never know it,
and over, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be
green meadows, stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music
risen out of the ground. They will take
nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting. Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is it possibility.