Early Morning Earth Exchange

The RadJoy Bird created by Harriet Sams and friends during their early morning RadJoy Practice, North Yorkshire, England. Photo by Harriet Sams

Meeting at 8am to undertake an Earth Exchange was always going to be an experiment. Who would be awake? Would our sleepiness affect the ceremony?Some people associate the Practice of RadJoy with the Global Earth Exchange, a yearly event that takes place in June all around the world. However, our true goal is to have noticing, spending time with, and making beauty for hurt places become a regular, ongoing path of creative mindfulness. 
Here, Harriet Sams of North Yorkshire, England, describes her recent experiment in inviting people into an early morning RadJoy ceremony. 
I am lucky enough to live in a beautiful and remote part of England, where much of the land is agricultural. Small villages dot the landscape, and any wounds are long healed by the passage of time. So it has been a case of travelling away in order to find obviously wounded sites. There are many: fracking in North Yorkshire, newly expanded factories nearby, infrastructure projects and recently closed coal mines, to name a few. But here, no, the once-quarried land is now sleeping under a layer of forgetting. Actually, this land is contaminated by lead runoff and heavy metals, yet much of Teesdale is doggedly sticking to the narrative that it is clean and pure, natural, even.
I decided to host an early morning Earth Exchange once a month at my own home, after I made a small stone circle at the bottom of my garden. I invited a few to attend and this morning, three of us participated. Somehow I had to invite the wounds into the circle. I did this by offering a bowl and asking everyone to find something that symbolised their “wound”–their own or that of the land. I personally put into the bowl a piece of plastic that represented the ongoing destruction of Earth, in its horror. I also put in a green leaf, falling from the tree too soon, to represent the terrible news is recently received of a young friend who had died in their sleep. Others put in family troubles, ill health, Earth damage that they have witnessed, and exhaustion. We held the space for each other as the items were placed in the bowl and described. For a few moments we felt the pain and the wounds of each other. Words were spoken about how these were not our burdens to carry, that by placing them into the bowl they could be carried for us by Mother Earth.
Then I asked them to find something lying around that represented the healing that could be done. I asked them to not think of the thing, but be drawn to something, allowing Mother Earth to guide the healing from a place beyond thought.

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.


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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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