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Joy and Grief


Sound the flute!

Now it’s mute!

Birds delight,

Day and night,


In the dale,

Lark in sky,—


Merrily, merrily to welcome in the year…

From Songs of Innocence by William Blake


In the northern hemisphere, spring is almost here. Nature is signaling to us that it is time to emerge from the darkness of winter into new beginnings. In my neighborhood the native plants have been flowering for over a month. Pollinators are knee-deep in blossoms, pine trees are raining pollen, birds are collecting twigs for their nests, and seedlings are responding to the longer days, reaching into shapes that hint at their future expressions.

But there are other things happening. The current state of the world includes, among other things, a humanitarian and ecological crisis that has many in a state of despair. I want to let you know that my heart is holding both – the joy of spring with the grief of co-emergent crises – and yours can too.

The act of holding joy and grief at the same time, without discounting one or ignoring the other, reminds me of the work of poet and visual artist William Blake. In 1789, Blake published Songs of Innocence and then Songs of Experience followed in 1794. The two collections of illuminated poetry are meant to speak to and inform each other, while also presenting the incompatible states of the human soul. At the time, the collections reflected Blake’s position on religion and the church, but now some 200 plus years later, the essence of the poems murmur to me that contradicting ideas and actions are not anomalies.

Then why is it so hard right now and how do I not fall into despair?

My only recommendation is to keep remembering to live from your heart. For me, this means experiencing a deep connection with the natural world. It could be spending a day in the woods, having an unexpected animal encounter, or stepping outside for 5-minutes to recalibrate. Nature’s support helps restore my joy and reminds me that I belong to the more-than-human family.

We can also live from our heart when we are witness to events that challenge our perseverance like holding space for a dying friend, standing up against the decimation of old growth forests, or watching our global sisters and brothers flee their communities. The heart is more tender in these moments, so the invitation is to feel it all and hold this grief with as much determination as you hold joy.

Life and death. Joy and grief. A heart can feel simultaneously full and broken. Let’s welcome spring with our entire being and do all we can do to bring peace to the world.


Reading & Listening, etc., Ideas

Peace on Earth

World ​​Central Kitchen - WCK is first to the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises.


Earwitness to Place with musician and bioacoustician Bernie Krause and poet Erin Robinsong. An interview about biophonies of place, practices of ear-witnessing, and the intimacy of listening.


Podcast: When the Earth Started to Sing with David G. Haskell & Emergence Magazine (39 minutes) This sonic journey written and narrated by David G. Haskell brings us to the beginning of sound and song on planet Earth. Listen with headphones!

Music: The Great Animal Orchestra (Listen time 1hr 10 min) Over the course of nearly fifty years, Bernie Krause has collected more than 5,000 hours of recordings of natural habitats, including at least 15,000 terrestrial and marine species from all around the world. This trained musician quickly discovered the musical harmony and quasi-orchestral organization of animal vocalisations in the natural world.

Summer Recommendation

Workshop - Storytelling from the Earth with Michelle Adam and OMEC - The objective of this class is to expand our imagination in relationship to nature and discover how to create and tell stories that serve as teaching tools for children. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, teacher, or want to create children’s stories centered on nature, this class is designed to be a dynamic journey that serves our earth and children.

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