As part of the RadJoy Practice and the Global Earth Exchange, we take time to get to know the wounded place as it is now —  not as we remember it, not as we wish it were, but as it reveals itself to us right now in the moment. This short adventure never fails to amaze, as Kinde Nebeker of Salt Lake City relates in this excerpt from the story of her 2010 Global Earth Exchange, in which four friends gather at the Great Salt Lake to witness, attend, and make beauty. She begins by setting the scene:
I am sitting in the late afternoon sun of a summer evening on ancient limestone rocks on the shores of the Great Salt Lake — a vast desert lake, seven times saltier than the ocean, an ancient remnant of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville. After Tom, Chris, and Gloria arrive for today’s Global Earth Exchange, we part, as agreed upon, and for half an hour walk our own ways, to simply notice what we notice in this place…..
We gather again on ancient limestone rocks, in a circle. I place the stick that I found on my walk in the center and invite people to pick it up and tell their story of the last half hour.
Chris muses upon her realization of just how ancient this lake is, and speaks of the great grace and mystery she sees in its age. The old have their own beauty.
Then I tell my story — of marks in sand, living patterns, and the clear reflection of the Kennecott Copper smokestack in the lake’s still waters. I am these patterns and reflections.
Tom is next. He tells of how he is now sitting with his back to the lake that for his whole life, growing up in Salt Lake City, his back has always been turned to this lake. He does not want to face it, and so he walks to the tall reeds on the shore. He tries to penetrate them and they poke him. He attempts to walk deeper in, but when he turns around, finds he has not come far; he can still see the lake. Finally he is able to become fully surrounded by the tall reeds and sits and feels protected.
Gloria climbed to the top of Black Rock. Getting to the top was easier than she had expected. She speaks of many memories of the Great Salt Lake-stories of Saltair, a Victorian era bath house her grandparents told of, stories of outings and picnics, of her son choosing to be baptized in this lake.
We sit in silence for a while, digesting each other’s words.

Click to read all of Kinde’s story, including the exuberant gift of beauty the group made for the lake.

Trebbe Johnson
Trebbe JohnsonFounder
Trebbe is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover and 101 Ways to Make Guerrilla Beauty. Her new book, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty, will be published in Fall 2018 by North Atlantic Books. Her articles about people’s emotional and spiritual relationship with nature have appeared in Orion, Sierra, Ecopsychology, The Ecologist, The Nation, Harper’s and other magazines. She lives with her husband, Andrew Gardner, in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, a region currently under exploitation by natural gas companies.

Image Credit:

  • Nebeker Drumming: Kinde Nebeker


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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.

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