Room to Heal

Twenty-seven of us set out from the parking lot finding a single track that led us through the woods and out into the open of the frozen-over brackish marsh of the Fore River Sanctuary. If others had not walked the trail before us, packing it down with snowshoes and persistence, we would have had a much more difficult walk ahead of us. As it was, we were able to stretch out our strides and wind our way along side of the river and over the river and through the woods. In places we were able to walk two abreast, but mostly we were in single file. We paused on a bridge to listen to a reflection:

Don’t apologize if you cry for the burning of the Amazon or the Appalachian mountains stripped open for coal [or for the plight of those displaced from home]. The sorrow, grief, and rage you feel are a measure of your humanity and your evolutionary maturity. As your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening as we see people honestly confronting the sorrows of our time.
— Joanna Macy, “The Greening of the Self” in Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth

I added the brackets in the quote above. What addition would you make? We all asked ourselves, “What’s breaking my heart these days?” Then we walked in silence to a natural waterfall, where we fell into conversation.

When you look at what is happening to our world - and it is hard to look at… it becomes clear that unless you have some roots in a spiritual practice that holds life sacred and encourages joyful communion with all your fellow beings, facing the enormous challenges ahead becomes nearly impossible.
— Joanna Macy, “The Greening of the Self”

We continued our walk. And we asked ourselves, “What spiritual practices are rooting us these days?”

In the past, poets and mystics have been speaking and writing about these ideas [of deep kinship with all life], but not people on the barricades agitating for social change. Now the sense of an encompassing self, that deep identity with the wider reaches of life, is a motivation for action. It is a source of courage that helps us stand up to the powers that are still, through force of inertia, working for the destruction of our world. This expanded sense of self leads to sustained and resilient action on behalf of life.
— Joanna Macy, “The Greening of the Self”

At the end of the trail, we paused on the last bridge. And I suppose it’s not fair for me to speak for every soul there, but I know that my steps at the end of the walk felt lighter than the steps I took when we set out to offer our contribution to the formation of the trail.

May your hearts break with purpose these days, and may your spiritual roots find fertile soil in the world around you.

Aram Mitchell

Renewal in the Wilderness, 20 Roberts Street, Falmouth, ME, 04105