Fire, Grief and Hope Inspired Action



IT IS ALL OVER THE NEWS. THE WORLD IS BURNING... Saudi oil factories, the Amazon, Indonesia, our own backyard in the Northern Territory. Sometimes from a distance this can be nothing more than a news story, an intellectual understanding... something to talk about at the water tank I suppose. Such is the nature of disconnected living. Though at the same time I hear stories of friends of the Earth who are really feeling the truth of the situation; the pain, grief and all that goes with it. What to do with this all?

Recently I returned to a very special piece of land on the coast at Hawks Nest where my partner and I spent a very deep month. It was winter when we retreated, now in Spring we were greeted by the beauty and sensual mastery of the emerging wildflowers. AND, alongside them, the brutal clearing of the property next door by the neighbour. Upon reaching this sight I looked as our familiar, yet elusive Dingo friend came loping towards us across the clearing; only to turn and run at our approach. For the first time in my life I was feeling a real sense of the loss of a piece of land that is near and dear, one in which I feel a part of, or is a part of me. I saw the cleared and burnt lands of connected cultures present and past across our Earth, especially here in Australia. I felt it. And it hurt. A lot. I must admit, when I came across the devastation, I was at first quick to anger... but then, through considering the nature of our world, the culture that such actions are born of, and the scale of this type of thing globally, I was also quick to sadness, grief... and, strangely, inspiration and hope.

Red tells us (in Shawshank Redemption) that 'Hope is a dangerous thing'. And somewhere I get it; because it can leave us vulnerable to disappointment, hurt; to loss. Still I turn to the voice of elders such as Joanna Macy; who offers us the opportunity to hold hope in our hearts, alongside deep grief and despair, and to use it to fuel action. As the fire of mankind rages, this type of hope is indeed born from the ashes of grief and loss. Because grief tells us that we feel something is part of us, and has been taken away; and therefore it is worth taking care of, fighting for. Then, a new fire is born, that of positive action.


Everywhere I look, alongside fires and earth destruction, I see and hear inspiring stories of action. This week we are about to witness what might be the biggest global strike for our climate crisis; for our burning planet. And it is led by those who will inherit it, teenagers like Greta Thunberg. This is the passion and fire of adolescence being turned towards awareness and protection. It reminds me of the idea Jon Young shares around mentoring; that when those in a connected culture reach adolescence, their gratitude for their village and the earth supporting them turn to a commitment to paying it back. That is the theme of this weeks Nature Connection as a Way of Life course, and one I am exploring in myself. How do I pay back my world for all I have been given?

Again I turn to inspiring teachers like Bill Plotkin; who ask us to search our own hearts, our own 'soul place', to discover what truly brings us alive, and to offer that to the world. This I truly believe is the most critical movement of our time, one that can only be supported by connected village communities, and WILD NATURE. In such communities MENTORS exist; willing to listen deeply, ask the right questions and to help us draw forth our unique magic from wherever it may be hidden, perhaps even in the dancing shadows of fires that burn in old wounds. They seek to connect us to ourselves, and to the earth community, for they know too well that our earth, and theirs, needs us in our light, shining brightly. That is what keeps the dreaming alive.

HOWEVER, in the meantime I praise and support those who are standing up and doing what is needed to slow the destruction of our Earth. our mother, our own body. Warriors of the heart I call them. For without it how can we continue our exploration of what it means to be human? To exist, as part of a great web of life? To explore all the feelings, all the joy, sadness, insight and understanding that comes from a life of connection?

I turn back to that Dingo, trotting towards me; on a land increasingly empty of food and life, but never giving up. Even in the heat of the day; with a sense of grace, it continues in it's pursuit to live. As do all things. As can we. I pray that we might be successful in our endeavour to preserve and regenerate our Earth and our human culture. And I still trust that a power greater than us is willing to support us fully, as long as our hearts are true, as long as we are committed to the cause.


Fight well, Love better, Mahli

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