Thursday, 2 June 2011

be not afraid

Over in St John's Sub Castro’s churchyard a little area of wild is regrowing, protected from strimming. It’s where I keep my honeybees. All around them grow wild grasses, flowers and weeds, tall and lush despite the lack of rain for two months, where many other beings live: small insects, birds and mammals. At the other end of the churchyard, only daisies and lawn-level grass are allowed to grow. The few trees remaining when a dense copse was thinned a couple of years ago have now died, the soil around them dried out from the lack of shade, their leafless branches bearing witness to an act of pointless interference.

Alan Watts once wrote: ‘You didn’t come into this world. You came out of it, like a wave from the ocean. You are not a stranger here.’ This terrain, my body, is not only interconnected with but continuous with all other beings. The Lakota native Americans acknowledge this in their prayer Mitakuye Oyasin - ‘all our relations’.

I’m still struggling with feelings of outrage and grief from the dire news this week, including the announcement that the world emitted more CO2 last year than ever before. Being alive today is a challenge to my sanity and my physical health, and I know I’m not alone. Sometimes I just need to return to the wild places around Lewes, such as the rewilding church yard over the road.

As Wendell Berry writes in The Peace of Wild Things

‘When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. 
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.’

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