"One of the biggest challenges we face both individually and communally is that we have forgotten where we belong and where we have come from, and we don’t know how to feel this pain or grieve it."
Tell us a bit about who you are and how you came to this work.
My own longing and grief brought me here. I knew that there was more to healing and wholeness than what I was experiencing in my life or what I was exposed to in traditional graduate school or church and the birds drew me outside. Something in my bones sensed that what I needed was more embodied, earthy, communal, and interconnected. The water called me in deep, the trees rooted me, the wind invited me to dance. I found a community of other humans in Seminary of the Wild who are asking the same questions about how to live a life that is interconnected with the more than human world, the same kind of weird as me. And I’m still on that weird and wonderful path.
Professionally, as a nature-based guide, psychotherapist, and co-active coach, I love supporting people to find home within their bodies, their lives and the greater world so that they may live more authentically from the inside out. I’m ever fascinated by the process of interpersonal healing, embodiment and contemplative spirituality, with particular interest in the wild feminine and calling. I am continually learning how to apprentice to ancient trees, ancestral and collective grief, somatic practice, slow time, dreams and the blank page. The Pacific Northwest is my current home, the ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples in the North Cascades watershed.
What are the lands that raised you, and how has your own connection with the natural world influenced your path?
The lands that raised me were the plains of the Midwest that held the sweet smell of fresh cut prairie grass, the morning song of the American Robin, trickling creeks speckled with water bugs, a bike trail that went through mazes of cornfields, thunderstorms, maple trees that turned bright yellow orange in the fall, and dark nights with constellations of stars. Beginning with my first memories, being outside was a place of imagination and wonder for me. I was a sensitive and quiet child, sitting next to the creek and riding my bike down the bike trail were a place of solace and connection, a place of magic. Above all, as a child it was the space and the sky that drew me into relationship…no matter where I was, I could connect to the clouds and the stars. They held the unknown and mysterious, and it’s that unknown and mysterious that calls me back again and again on my path.
Why do you believe a practice of spiritual connection with the earth is important for our time?
Spiritual connection with the earth is our original and elemental belonging. Gravity itself tells us we belong, here…in this place, this time, breathing this air into our lungs, drinking this water, eating this food, placing our feet on this ground. It’s an elemental truth that I forget so easily, the dominant culture wants me and all of us to forget. Getting to know this elemental connection builds love, appreciation, and reciprocity for the natural world and all those who call and will call it home, human and more than human. The practice of spiritual connection is about re-membering our original belonging: it helps me feel more woven into the interconnection of all things, it is a balm to my loneliness and awakens my heart to love. Can you imagine a world where we all remember that?
In your experience, what are some of the barriers or challenges individuals or communities face in developing a deeper connection with nature?
One of the biggest challenges that we face both individually and communally is that we have forgotten where we belong and where we have come from, and we don’t know how to feel this pain or grieve it.
All our human ancestors at one time were a part of place-based culture, with intimate connection with the land, harvesting or hunting our own food, building our own homes from found materials on the land, sleeping with our bodies on the earth, cultivating stories and myths and embodied dance and song from the earth herself. We used to have honor for and reciprocity with the animal and plant ones. We used to know the herbs and the plants that were for medicine, and which ones were for food. Many of our cultures had practices of sharing our sleeping and waking dreams with one another, practice of deep listening and inner knowing. We used to have practices of sacred ceremony for passages of time, thresholds in life. We used to wake with at least 40 sets of eyes staring at us and welcome us into a communal world. We used to honor our elders and had more of them for a shoulder to cry on and a heart to hold us. Many humans do practice like this now, but for most of us, we have forgotten. In all of this, there is so much longing and grief for me. I feel it.
As a white person from European descent, I don’t know the stories of my place-based culture or the ancestral lands that my blood knows. Those stories were not passed onto me, in fact, they were intentionally “white-washed” and left behind. That is an individual and collective trauma that is difficult and painful to feel, and so much in the dominant culture is oriented around not feeling that pain or wound. To reconnect and remember our original connection can be scary and unknown. Yet, if we allow ourselves to feel the grief it will call us back into connection. We can follow our original longing back into relationship with what we know in our bones. This is best done together. Yes, together.