~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Friday, January 6, 2017

Healing Our Wild Hearts

During this past year, I've often struggled to have faith that humans are worthy of the gifts of our magnificent planet and universe. The vicious comments to and about other people, from all points of view and all sides of the political conversation (if one can even call it a conversation, which I doubt), have triggered my tendencies toward melancholy and misanthropy. And, if it weren't bad enough that we treat each other badly, we destroy other species and the planet that provides so abundantly for us.
Winter in the Ozarks

Whenever I could manage it, I have always chosen to live "in the country," whether that was our new home here in the southwest Missouri Ozarks, or in the woods of Maine, or the mountains of Colorado. Even these areas, though not wild, retain enough residual wildness to soothe my soul when I am unable to visit true wilderness areas.

I worry that this next administration of our government will harm our environment even more than we've already done, by prioritizing short-term gains over long-term losses. I would like to think that humans can control our greed so that we do as little harm as possible to others and our planet, but, sadly, most people when given free rein will think short-sightedly only about themselves, whether farmers or corporations or the average worker buying as much stuff as they possibly can.
Winter Woods in Maine

If we further allow our country to invade, harvest, and destroy even our wild places -- national parks, forests, and refuges -- our souls, the wild magic within each of us, whether we know it is there or not, will die along with our resources. There have been multitudes of books and movies about what could happen, yet many of us see them as entertainment rather than warnings, pretending they couldn't possibly happen.

I may not visit those wild places very often, but I am deeply comforted knowing they are there -- for their own sake as part of the Divine Whole, but also in case I need them. If they disappear, where will we go to heal? Where will our hearts be able to feel a sanctuary of natural wilderness even if we cannot see it with our eyes?

Summer in the Rocky Mountains
I was blessed to grow up visiting these wilderness places each summer; they became a part of me, places I always knew were out there healing us through their vital existence. Further, I was blessed that these visits were journeys across our amazing America, from sea to ocean, from mountains to deserts--these were road trips. The insightful naturalist and author Terry Tempest Williams writes about this eloquently in her latest book, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks:

     To be an American once meant unending possibility, and the land reflected that possibility. Always the next bend--the next ridge--the mountain range descending into the depth of canyons carved by water an wind and time.
     Now, we say we have too little time, not enough time for road trips. We used to visit our national parks most often by car. Families took time and experienced the gradual approach to the park being visited. Anticipation was part of the journey as was the wildness of a family spending time together for hours and days, traversing the states. Today we arrive by plane. We miss the trek across the vast expanse of this nation. I sometimes wonder whether these special landscapes now appear as "pop-up parks," a spot of entertainment and commerce instead of an unfolding geography.

This past weekend, I pulled out some books by an author I used to enjoy but had yet to read her four most recent novels. I had paused in reading her books because I felt like she went into a darker mental space than I cared to visit anymore; Nevada Barr writes about the intersection of wilderness (national parks) with humans-gone-wrong in her mystery series. I found myself wanting to read her stories now, though, for the very reason that her protagonist somehow always finds her way through to the other side, to where she still has faith in beauty and love and how wildness can help us to heal.

I wish more people would travel, would make space in their lives for experiencing the wonders of our natural, wild places. Unlike our ancestors once thought, the beauty and resources of our world are finite and we need to treasure them. Many people forget that our bodies and minds careen into the wastelands without the nourishment provided through our souls, our wild and divine hearts that are revitalized through our connection to our sacred earth.
Grand Canyon


  1. You're so right, we need the wild places and even when we can't visit them, just knowing that they exist is important. Your pictures are wonderful, that's a lot of snow in Maine!

  2. I have a lot of fear for what the next four years may bring.


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