When we say a place is wounded, we mean it can no longer do what it once did. It is disabled. It’s a force of life that has fallen on hard times and is struggling to get by. Nature has no problem including in its great sorority the dead, dying, and ailing as fully as the lovely, healthy, and intact. Dead deer, trees with fungus, one-legged birds, limp and fading rhododendron blooms barely clinging to their bush, a river bearing waste—they all fit in that mesh we like to exalt as the “web of life.”
To see a place as wounded is to reexamine the meaning of living and dying and to allow some curiosity and even a sense of marvel to emerge about the tactics nature employs to persevere. These places are still alive and waiting to be reunited with those who belong to it, including us humans. The being of a place lives in the physical world. It also exists in the emotional, spiritual, and biographical planes of the human psyche, and because it is alive, it continues to make demands and stir feelings in your consciousness, your conscience, your ethics.
By visiting these loved, hurt places, we remember that what is hurt is still whole. We face conditions we thought we didn’t want to face. We discover beauty where we least expected it. And, by making beauty for this place we reconnect with it in astonishing ways.
(Excerpt from Trebbe Johnson, Radical Joy for Hard Times: Finding Meaning and Making Beauty in Earth’s Broken Places)

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:

  • Overland Park: Elaine Johnson


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