By Jillian Froebe
This ceremony started as a vision of a funeral for Box of Rain. Some of us were blessed to be in intimate relationship with this forest before the clearcut. Spending time on the land, we witnessed, documented, slowed down and paid close attention to every step we took, noticing what we might harm by just the simple act of walking. We listened for a place on the land that called to us, observed, allowed our senses to receive the gifts of what was a beautifully diverse ecosystem. During our ceremony today, we’ve engaged in these same practices of walking and paying close attention in a now sadly ravaged environment. We experienced Death as indeed present, as was Life, evolving, trying to thrive.
In contemplating how to connect this moment with The Global Earth Exchange, the Jewish notion of Tikkun Olam arose. This is a practice of doing something in the world that will not only repair damage, but also improve what has been damaged. It is also taught that to truly repair, we must also deeply feel all the emotions that arise in the presence of this harm.
Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, founder of Emergence Magazine, writes of a Primordial Covenant of Relationship. This is another way of naming what we have honored during our ceremony today. Each of us was invited to open to the grief embedded in actions that harm what is precious. These actions arise from stories and states of forgetfulness, from forgetting the sacred nature of creation, from the crisis of separation and forgetting the most essential nature of interconnection, from forgetting understandings and practices of reciprocal relationship that have existed since time immemorial.
To offer repair and to recognize we were in the presence of pain born in what has been forgotten, we turned towards our grief, with tenderness, with respect and with love. We acknowledged that we are also living a story of remembering, generating stories of beauty and love, stories as powerful as those of forgetfulness. As we beheld what is still alive in this clearcut forest, we invited love that seeds respect for the unknown, that generates awe, that attunes to the majesty and the mystery of what remains on this land, still fostering life.
In ceremony together, we returned to what we deeply know, to what already exists in the marrow of our bones, in our DNA. What lies there waiting, to be woken up. To be remembered. These primal, living, loving reciprocal relationships among us are often unlocked by heartbreak, by grief. The original inhabitants of this land know this all too well. And we committed to remember, to attune to deep listening, to hear the breezes and the rain as voices, the trees as relatives, the rocks as messengers, not just as background or part of the environment of our lives. As a complementary gesture to this listening, we acknowledged that we are active co-creators, offering tending, prayers, and reparation, while creating beauty with our hands and from our hearts as we stand together on common ground.
To learn about the ongoing struggle to defend legacy forests in Washington State, you can visit the Center for Responsible Forestry website at: c4rf.org
To learn about efforts to build meaning and ceremony within and in response to ecological collapse, you can visit the Multifaith Network for Climate Justice website at: earthministry.org/multifaith-network-for-climate-justice/