Sometimes it is during the hardest and most challenging circumstances of our lives that we are most deeply surprised and touched by beauty. During the Israeli bombardment of Beirut in 1982, the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish was stunned by the persistence of the birds that never ceased to take advantage of early morning to break into song.
“They’ve kept the tradition of neutral song ever since they found themselves alone with the first glimmer of light,” he wrote. “For whom do they sing in the crush of these rockets? They sing to heal their nature of a night that has passed…. The birds clear their own space in the smoke of that burning city, and the zigzagging arrows of sound wrap themselves around the shells and point to an earth safe under the sky.”
The steadfastness of the birds reminded the author that a normal life had existed once in that troubled place and perhaps could exist again someday. What hard time in your life did one of nature’s “traditions” pull you out of darkness for a joyful moment or two?

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:

  • Hofhuizen: "The Painted Bird" by Willem Hofhuizen

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