Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Jacob's Wound - A Search for the Spirit of Wildness

When, at our last meeting, Mike drew our attention to the article in Globe and Mail about the federal government's abandonment of the prairie grasslands (see previous post), I hadn't initially noticed who the author is.  When I did notice Tervor Herriot's name, I recognized his name as author of Jacob's Wound, a book I've read in the past.  So I went back to it, and am reading it again.  One reviewer describes the book this way:  "Composed of nature writing, philosophy, religious history, journalism, and memoir, the book is an exploration of the “spirit of wildness” and an evocation of an Earth-based spirituality".

Given our group's interest in living simply, and living in harmony with the earth, I'd like to share one section of the book.  I think this also connects with Karla's reference to her walk through the Charleswood forest with Mike earlier in the week, a walk that clearly inspired thoughtful conversation.

I hope you enjoy this poetic reflection on the power of "wildness".  So, this is from Jacob's Wound, pages 30 & 31.

- submitted by Gareth

Photo-Source: McClelland.com

Shelter 3

Like everyone else, I get out of town to be in a place where a good chunk of nature remains available to my senses.  When our souls want restoring we do not go sit in the middle of parking lots.  We go where life is a little less scripted, a little less conscripted.

An older couple stopped by for a visit one afternoon while we were out at the Land.  Retired people, well-off, well-educated.  We sat gazing out over the valley and Lake Katepwa in the middle distance.  On cue, the woman said, "My, what a place!  I can just feel the stress melting away."

You hear such talk, the same clinical terms, from people for whom a gravel road is an adventure.  The wind fresh from poplars and meadows eddies through  their  blood and yet they are at a loss to name the thing that moves them.  One step beyond constructed and landscaped surfaces and we are in terra incognita.  We are dying within our shelter.  People used to die of exposure.  Nothing gets a piece of us any more if we can help it.  Wind, rain, ice, and sun, the creatures that bite or hook into us, wait for us on the other side of doors and walls and caskets.

Once, children inoculated themselves with mud and microbes.  Remember?  People pulled foals from mares.  Woke to crowing birds.  Who stumbles now in storm from porch to barn door?  The long hours of lying in grass are gone.  Time with lambs and calves, bird nests and dragonflies made us.  Time apart from them is unmaking us.
Pre-dawn dispatches from the cerebellum urge a lowering of barriers, a return to the senses:  abandon shelter, find communion in exposure.  See this luffing sail, hear this canine howl, taste this bread, smell this violet, touch this stone.  Blessed are the unwanted abrasions, invasions, and privations;  the grace of all that, in eluding and pursuing our flesh, draws us nearer sacrament.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Thank you for this, Gareth. Indeed, time apart from our natural world is "unmaking us".
    I was able to find a relatively inexpensive copy on line and have already ordered this book. Eager for more...