For the past month Radical Joy Revealed has featured some of the many wonderful stories from this year’s Global Earth Exchange. Yet a pilgrimage to a hurt place, planned and shared, is not the only way to find and make beauty for the Earth. In fact, our vision is that the RadJoy practice—spontaneous, simple, and heartfelt—will become the response we instinctively adopt when we encounter wounded places. Sara Harris of Forestville, California shares this story:
I am on my way north from Ashland, Oregon to Portland on a sparkling, quiet Sunday morning near the end of May. Interstate 5 is full of the usual long haul rigs that carry supplies up and down the entire west coast, but the passenger traffic is fairly light. This is a rare road trip alone, as I am on my way to visit and care for a cousin having surgery. Time alone in the car like this I refer to my “traveling monastery” time, since I can listen to talks, music, silence that might be different with company, so I cherish the time.
Above Grant’s Pass, but before Eugene, the land is gorgeous. Old farms that the freeway no doubt split apart still have their iconic barns. There are hills that turn into foothills and mountains farther off, and green, forested hills all around.
Up ahead I spot a naked patch of land far off on a high mountain. Then, at a wildly steep angle, another ripped open naked patch on a nearby mountain. I see more and more, like crazy quilt patches that have been dropped by a mad man throughout the land around me, glaring out from the surrounding forested hills.
It just hurts my heart to see these huge bald spots of ripped habitat, desecrated forests, denuded of trees. My iPhone is plugged into my car’s speaker, turned up loud for the inspirational poetry and songs I have chosen as my morning “church.” One song I have pushed “repeat” on several times is by Padraig O’Tuama, entitled “Marantha” from his album “Hymns to Swear By.” My favorite refrain is this one: “I fucked it up so many times, I fucked it up so many times, I fucked it up so many times, Allelulia, alleluia, alleluia.” What better verse to lay claim to the honest human dilemma of mess and glory? And so I belt it out to those hills, over and over, singing the full song along with Padraig, crying and crying. Crying for the pain of the Earth, for the damage. I then cry “Alleluia” for the beauty still within all of this and for the beauty even within pain.
I realize that this is living Radical Joy for a very hurt place, This is my witnessing and my gift, my tears and my heartfelt singing to that land… right from my car while cruising up Interstate I5 at 75 miles an hour. It’s all I can give.
—Sara Harris