In early March, on a cool, fresh, sunny day, Nate and I decided it was the right time to hike as a family up to the clear cut forest above Tolt MacDonald Park 1 mile from home. It was time to do our ceremony for the land. Grieving is a process and not a short one. I shared some of my process soon after this devastating clear cut happened last fall in my blog, I Am Earth ~ the Doorway of Grief. And I have still been grieving since. Each time I look up and see the ravaged ridge line, I could still feel waves of anger, sadness, grief. How could there ever be Joy again in that land there?
On this sunny Sunday morning, Nate, Orion and I hiked up through beautiful forest, examining every mushroom, slug and waving fern we encountered as we climbed. When we reached the edge of the clear cut, Nate found a spot with a little ledge over some of the newly decimated land. He set up a little altar and it was here we began our ceremony as a family.
Opening with a circle of gratitude, we chose to split up to during the heart of the ceremony. Nate and Orion stayed at the edge of the clear cut to do their part of the ritual together. And I, feeling drawn to go up to the highest point, to be witness to the whole destruction of this sacred forest and to carry out my part of the ritual from that place, I climbed higher.
I had not yet entered the very heart of this clear cut until that day. The pain was just as intense as before. And the vastness of this once forested land is heartbreaking. Again I cried for these trees, the arrogant destruction and whole piles of logs, just left to rot. Where, where is the respect and reverence for life in such actions as clear cutting?! Crying, I rose higher and eventually reached the highest point. I paused.
Across from where I stood, someone had made a table with three stools – all made from the stumps of this land. It almost felt like an altar. I stood there, and, as there were no trees, I could see the beautiful snow covered jagged peaks of the Cascade mountains to the east and a view of the valley to the southeast and south. I realized this is where I would do my part of our ceremony.
As I stood, …I began to hear a frog croaking. I was so surprised! And then, as I scanned the ravaged land, I spotted a baby tree! And then another and another! New life was already re-emerging in this once forested landscape.
With several breaths, I began my part of the ceremony with prayers. As I started, I heard two eagles calling. One flew down by Nate and Orion and the other flew up over me.
As a family, we were drawn to do this ceremony, yet what happened surprised me. As I prayed, I felt the land respond. Maybe prayer was the doorway for my heart to open fully to what was already happening, and maybe my/our prayers and love are really what our lands are thirsting for, as we humans remember our sacred covenants with the Earth. One of those covenants is to practice ceremony and gratitude as a way of reciprocity, giving thanks for all we receive. Giving our prayers of deep gratitude and love fuels the regeneration of Life, of our Earth.
As I prayed I felt an immense sense of Love from the Earth rising up into this land of stumps. I felt the love from the stars shining down, from the rain nourishing the soil, the Moon shining each night, the clouds and wind massaging the landscape. There was deep, deep love there. And I felt a healing in me as I held the prayer and visualization of healthy, large trees growing back, the land healed and restored and the forest thriving in a way it hadn’t in a long, long time.
As I completed, the two eagles called again, and again they flew over as I walked back to join Nate and Orion. Orion ran smiling to greet me up the trail saying he and Dada made fire (aka lit a candle as part of their ceremony). We then sprinkled wild flower seeds, sang songs to the land and trees to come and completed.
On our walk down the mountain, as we entered back into the still standing trees, the eagles came back one more time. This time, however the two of them circled directly over me, Nate and Orion many, many, many times. And, above these two eagles, three more came flying very high, again circling above us.
Just as the land responded, these Eagles, these majestic beings also responded, and I believe they were saying thank you. They were helping us recognize that yes, this care-taking, this ceremony is indeed one of our sacred covenants as human beings. It is time to remember, to pray and to give thanks.