Many of you may know Trebbe Johnson & her offering in the world, Radical Joy for Hard Times. I had the pleasure of spending time with her at the Global Wilderness Guides Council gathering. A group of us created guerrilla beauty & sharing among the sequoia, sugar & ponderosa pine, some 100,000 acres of which burned last year.
Sitting among the ashes together, listening to the land while sierra wildflowers emerged, songbirds sang, & stones spoke deep time, was a healing moment of holding it all from a place of heart-centered compassion that doesn’t deny the grief, the hard stuff, and also doesn’t deny the joy & beauty that has a way of also emerging in the most unexpected ways.
I expected to go to my usual place of deep grief being with the charred remains of the landscape. Yes it was there; Yet it was one among many energies percolating in me, & found myself no longer afraid to be with it all. My first impulse was to pour some of my water into the ground. I was moved to want to be intimate with the ashes—smell it, taste it, FEEL IT. I rubbed soot over my arms, legs, and face. And I knew: I am the burnt forest. I am the spring penstemon & pussy paws poking through. I am the discarded trash. I am the wind playing the harp of the dry ponderosa needles.
As we were closing sharing of our experiences being with the landscape, two red foxes came up the hill, curious about what these two-leggeds were up to. It was a moment of wonder, laughter & possibility.
We then co-created beauty in the form of a bird just from elements from the landscape, from pinecones to manzanita to rusted beer cans. To me it had the appearance of a gorgeous phoenix rising from the ashes.
The piece I added was glass from a bottle. It had one word: “Contents”. I couldn’t help but be struck by the playful juxtaposition of ‘contents’, and ‘conTENT’—one a filling up with things out of a sense of emptiness, the other being at peace.
I placed it on the heart of the bird.
The annual Global Earth Exchange is coming up June 25, a day to give simple gifts of gratitude/beauty to places we love that are wounded. You can find out more at @radicaljoyforhardtimes.