Anne Stine is a therapist and the founding director of Wilderness Rites in Ashland, Oregon. She has been leading Global Earth Exchanges every year since our very first one in 2010. Recently she remarked that the following story, in which participants in her 2015 GEx were inspired by a dragonfly, offers a message of resilience and hope at this time of pandemic.

Nine women came together in the small town of Lincoln, Oregon and met with Dave Willis, head of Soda Mountain Wilderness and the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument. Dave gave us a wonderful detailed talk on all that is going on in our beautiful local public lands, as well as at the place he had chosen for us to be together for Radical Joy.
This is a private logging area in the Monument and has been devastated by grazing, logging, big fire last year and finally salvaging. However, there was also a remarkable and rare feature at this wounded place, and that was a pristine spring coming out of the side of a hill within the devastation. The spring becomes Spring Creek and is slated to be designated a “scenic creek” under the wild and scenic act, which will protect it.
We came together for a brief sharing of our initial feelings / impressions which ranged from grief to wonder. Then we drummed on the big mother drum we had brought and sent her voice out into the land and beyond to join with all the other wounded places around the globe receiving attention on the same day.
We then spent an hour in solitude on the land. Upon our return, we each shared our experiences of the wonder and beauty we found within the devastation. We were deeply moved by the hope expressed by the pristine creek flowing through the middle of the black stumps and huge piles of slash. The wild flowers were abundant in and around the waters, which ran downhill and sang a joyous song over rocks.
Perhaps the most surprising experience for us was to notice a huge dragonfly, probably a sanddragon, in a side pool of the creek. It was literally jumping vertically in and out of the water, up and down, up and down. We watched in wonder for about 15 minutes and speculated on this, sensing that we were having a peek into a very rare and private happening in nature. We decided that she was depositing eggs, as we could see small white specs disappearing into the water. But most of all we decided that she was jumping for “joy”, that she was also celebrating Radical Joy, in the middle of the spring of hope within the huge wounded place.
We were all very inspired and felt that one of the many gifts of this place was the teaching Mother Earth gave to us that no matter what happens, She/we will continue on, without skipping a beat. We will never let any thought of giving up, or “what’s the use” take hold. For as we looked around at what had happened here and saw the powerful regeneration that was taking place, we knew that no matter what, we will keep going.

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.