The landscape of loss, and my new sit spot

Day 45

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

My grief creeps into these days like kittens with rough tongues and soft feet. But at night, my grief rears up with wild tiger roars, claws scratching at the walls.

At night in the quiet, family sleeping beside me, the sadness tumbles in.

The wolves with their spirit eyes and noble strides, gunned down by ranchers with 10 gallon hats and sharp toed cowboy boots.

The wild eyed children in dirty cities being sold into sex trade.

The mountains, tops brushing blue sky, disappearing bit by bit, stolen by the mining companies and mountaintop removal.

The ancient bedrock, cracked and mutilated, force fed chemicals to extract precious bubbles of gas.

Our beautiful PA streams, radioactive, contaminated, poisonous.

The culture of destruction tells us raw emotion is shameful, should be hidden behind tissues and closed doors.

Medicated away, swallowed down, where it eats away at our insides, makes us bitter, hardens our hearts.

But what if our culture encouraged us to grieve together? To join hands, and voices in song, to wail and moan, to feel our salty tears mingle together on wet cheeks?

PLEASE take a few minutes to watch the video clip below. It is one of the truest, and most beautiful displays of group emotion I have ever seen. Wil and I came across this show years ago, and it has stayed with me ever since. I cried when I saw it the first time, and I cried all over again with the Anuta tribe when I watched it again this afternoon.

It speaks that loudly to me of truth and beauty.

The entire episode is fantastic, the Anuta tribe are some of the warmest and most authentic human beings I have ever seen. But the part I want you to see starts around the 3 minute mark, when the tribe begins their farewell ceremony for their visitor, and runs to the end.

So much feeling, such gaping, open emotion! My grief wants that. My grief wants to sit with the grief of others. To be poured out of open mouths, and crying eyes. My grief wants to be sobbed out onto wet sand, flung from heaving shoulders.

Grief can be a salve for our wounds from civilization. It can also be an offering.

photo by wil

photo by wil

An offering to the ones we’ve lost, to the ones we’re losing, to the ones who’ve slipped through the cracks.

Our grief can send them messages,”My heart breaks for you, my hands shake. You are not forgotten, your life was not in vain. We remember you, we see you. Thank you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.”

Our grief can bring us together, wake us up, rattle our bones.

This grief can heal. But only if we let it in.

But only if we let it


photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

I found my new sit spot

Revel and I took our afternoon stroller ride through the small cemetery at the edge of our neighborhood today. We saw the big orange tomcat again, and suddenly I realized that I was looking at my new sit spot.

It’s nestled at the southern edge of the cemetery, between the oldest, crumbling headstones, dates worn away by time, and a dense hedgerow of blackberry brambles, honeysuckle shrubs, and white pines. Meadow to the eastern side, Monsanto corn field to the west.

And somehow it seems fitting, that my new spot is there where the starlings roost, surrounded by the ancestor bones, so many forgotten, long dead, invisible. And the zombie corn, straight and tall, eerie in its’ sameness.

It is the perfect place to observe the patterns in shadows, to learn the ways of the wind, to watch the movement of the winged ones.

It is the perfect place to listen to the landbase.

And, I’m hoping, the perfect spot to navigate the landscape of loss.

Thank you for listening,



photo by Wil

photo by Wil


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