When her three-year-old son needed surgery, Harriet Sams returned to her former home in northern England from France, where she, her husband and three children recently moved. Harriet’s anxiety about the operation was compounded by the gloomy, cold weather and the knowledge that the hospital was in one of the most highly COVID-infected areas of the country. She is a longtime teacher and advocate of the RadJoy Practice, however, so she knew how to deal with her anxiety. A couple of days before the operation, she wrote: 
I am feeling so low right now. So anxious. I feel close to tears all the time with what my little boy is about to go through, what he’s already been through, what needs to be done.
Today my son and I went for a little walk. This area is very run down. It was a coal mining area, and since they shut the mines down in the eighties, the local community has been impoverished and angry. The local river, the Gaunless, has “sewage runoff” signs along its bank, and there is a disused open cast mine up its sides. About twenty years ago it flooded the whole town, running contaminants across people’s homes. A dam was built to “contain” the waters. It has been labeled a “wildlife dam”, but there is no sign of the wild.
Or so I thought.
I suddenly saw rabbit runs through the fence and my heart leapt; the wild creatures are still here and finding a way. My son and I made the RadJoy Bird out of the few things we found here. Making the bird was so important to me, as it helped me turn back around and walk home with him and not see just the mess and the rubbish and the broken windows and the dirty traffic. I felt a hope. I felt something had shifted that I need to hold onto. Of course I feel anxious. That’s part of this. All of this is how it is.”

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:

  • Calouen: Harriet Sams


  • IMG 5758

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