Radical Joy Revealed
August 19, 2015
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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places. We hope you'll enjoy these doorways into places that are both familiar and surprising, and we welcome your suggestions, stories, and photos. Click here to subscribe.

Firecloud
Plumes of smoke from California wildfires fires. Photo by Jennifer Wilhoit
When the land you love and where you live is under assault, how do you respond? Often we just want to escape. But as RadJoy member Jennifer Wilhoit of Sebastopol, California suggests, sometimes staying and feeling the grief is what's really called for:

Currently, I live in California.
 
Upon waking I feel uncharacteristic sadness, grief associated with geography. I imagine it's my continual longing for the verdant Pacific Northwest, a place I have called "home" for over twenty-five years. 
 
In the evening I photograph a fire-cloud: smoke from another nearby wildfire. Suddenly I hear from deep within: I'm grieving the drought! This comes as a shocking, powerful recognition. I have embodied grief about the earth before. But today's sorrow, unexpectedly sharp as it is birthed in my inner landscape, is about the desiccated land of California being eaten by ravenous wildfires hungry for the tinder of dead grasses.
 
I'd cheerily return to my Pacific Northwest.
 
But I have a place right now in this beautiful-but-desperately-thirsty land which breaks my heart, waves of sadness upon brown, smoky skies and an eerie, fluorescent red sun. As an abider in nature, my emotional landscape is dehydrated. I love this gentle, pulsating earth. It is my supreme delight to rest upon, move across, ponder deeply, and breathe in this planet. But her parched dusty skin frightens me.
 
I vow to:
offer beauty through reverent words and sacred outdoor altars;
caress with hands laid upon grasses, moist or dried;
greatly conserve water;
honor what grows in unrecognizably barren landscapes.
 
I vow, too, to honor this drought by being true to my grief.

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Radical Joy for Hard Times is a global community of people dedicated to finding and making beauty in wounded places. Reconnecting with these places, sharing our stories of loss, and making acts of beauty there, we transform the land, reconnect people and the places that nourish them, and empower ourselves to make a difference in the way we live on Earth. 
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