Honoring the River

Polly Howells
Falling Waters Preserve, Glasco, New York

Story Info

Honoring the River

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Story & Experience

There were twelve of us who gathered in a small cove on the Hudson River, after following the Father C. Jorn Trail from the parking lot of the Falling Water Preserve in Saugerties, New York.  Until he passed in 2002, Father Jorn was the chaplain of the Dominican Sisters’ retreat that sits above the trail.  Over many years he carved this trail himself, using only a machete and a rake.

The river is still tidal here, and the rising waters have eroded the roots of the trees at high tide, leaving them exposed when the water goes out.

We stood in circle, hearing a poem by Paul Goodman, “The Lordly Hudson.”

This is our lordly Hudson hardly flowing
under the green-grown cliffs
and has no peer in Europe or the East.
Be quiet, heart! Home! Home!

We talked about the climate catastrophe we are facing, and noted the murkiness of the stream that ran beside the path leading to the water.  Then we spread out silently along the shore, gathering materials, both natural and manmade, that called to us.  We collaboratively created our bird out of these materials, and then came back together in circle around our creation.

At this point an influx of about thirty people arrived for a baby-naming ceremony.  They were excited to hear about Radical Joy for Hard Times, and the mother and child joined our circle while we learned and sang the beautiful song by MaMuse, “We shall be Known.”

It is time, now, It is time now that we thrive
It is time to lead ourselves into the well
It is time, now, and what a time to be alive
In this great turning we shall learn to lead in love
In this great turning we shall learn to lead in love.

As one of our participants noted, “We made our bird and opened our ceremony and the child arrived.”

It was a magical afternoon.

Falling Waters Preserve, Glasco, New York


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