“The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.”
― Joanna Macy
Dear One, We met one early summer morning just as the sun rose above the Susquehanna.
The breeze blew in my direction, drying the sweat from my morning run. And the breeze tricked your nose. You didn’t sense my presence until we saw each other. You were padding downstream from the treeline by the brook just below the medical office building. I had stopped. Stilled by your graceful trotting along the grassy stream bank, head low, tail out as balancing rudder to your morning hunt. Our eyes locked. We froze. Delight rose from my feet to my crown. Did fear arise in you? Back to the treeline you ran.
Early August. Construction on the stream bank. Machinery tore up the hillside and snapped the trees where your den was. Anger seethed in me at our human-focused view. I looked for you each morning that I ran upstream.
Late August evening. I see a lump on the roadside as I drive by. Is it you? A sibling, a cousin? The next morning, I run downhill, downstream to you. I palm tiny roses from the rosebush in my garden and gift them to you. I see your dead broken body. Sorrow cascades through my body from my eyes to you at my feet. I return later with a shovel, an armful of golden Rudbeckia flowers and oats and poppyseed for your soul journey. You are so light. I place you on Mother Earth in the Goldenrod and Queen Anne’s Lace. I cover you in Rudbeckia and place the food beside you. I sing to you Martynov’s “The Beatitudes” in Russian, the same song that I sang to my ancestors in the Rusyn Greek Catholic Cemetery outside Pittsburgh this January. For me, the truth in the music is deeper than even the words. And I care but don’t care that a jogger goes by, that a dog barks out the window of a car. And I cry for you, for me, for humanity, for Mother Earth and all her children.
I visited you in the days that followed, honoring your life. One day, I looked for you. I blinked. Where had you gone? Transformation, alchemy -the work of heat, microbes and maggots had welcomed your body back into Mother Earth.
Let my heart always be breaking open.
How do you connect with Mother Earth/Creation/Nature? What is your experience of eco-grief and climate anxiety? I encourage you to bring your experience of eco-grief to your spiritual practice, your spiritual companion, therapist, spiritual community, soul friends, physician, family and folks who support you.
Justin Ferko (he/they) is a queer spiritual guide and Earth poet, Dean of SDSG II and graduate of Oasis SDSG and DYDM programs. Justin celebrates our giftedness, power and wholeness as LGBTQIA2S+ community in this time of increasing political oppression. As a Certified Forest Bathing Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, Justin facilitates your soul friendship with Mother Earth and your own senses. You can reach him for spiritual guiding, supervision, or in-person/remotely guided Forest Bathing walks: email@example.com and www.wildspiritpaths.com