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An Anguished Fullness, Such a Gentle Breeze

Updated: Dec 27, 2020

Listening to Her

In these days of CoVid, I have taken to listening to the wind here on Cortes Island in B.C., territory tended to for thousands of years by the traditional peoples of the Salish Sea—We Wai Kai, Kwiakah, Homalco and the Klahoose. Listening to the wind move through this land, I feel a tangible texture in its sonic presence. Right now, as I write this, a bald eagle is soaring in circles above me, riding the waves of air with the entirety of its body. Watching him, it is as if I can feel in my own limbs what it is like to ride these waves that rush past me as I walk, one foot after another placed gently on the earth. Today’s breeze is gentle; yet there is also such an intensity to it—as if all of the universe is present in the textures that awaken every cell of my body, they are gripped by an emotional, physical and spiritual intensity.

This feeling reminds me of a quote I recently re-discovered from Albert Camus. I opened an old book and a slip of paper wrinkled and torn at the edges with the quote scribbled on it in my 20-something handwriting fell out onto my lap.

There are evenings, at the foot of mountains by the sea, when night falls on the perfect curve of a little bay and an anguishes fullness rises from the silent waters. …We have exiled beauty, the Greeks took arms for it.

~Albert Camus

When I read this now, I replace the word ‘it,’ standing in for beauty, with ‘her.’ In my adult consciousness, nature is a living, pulsing and breathing life force whose greatness far exceeds any human concept of gender and yet, the feminine pronoun is the one through which she speaks to me.

Ecofeminists equate the ways that we mistreat the earth to the ways that we mistreat female bodies. We objectify, consume, exploit and abuse female bodies and the earth. All of us do this, for it is the basis of our media industry, and all of us suffer greatly as a result.

And yet, in this moment when I quiet myself enough to fully listen to her voice speak to me through the breezes that wrap me as if a grandmother’s wise hands are pulling a blanket snug around my shoulders, it feels as if all of it, all of our past mistakes and collective acts driven by fear & greed can be forgiven, fully and truly forgiven. This forgiveness arises the moment we shift our perspective inward and outward, a simultaneous dance between our own lives and this earth’s pulse of life. In doing so we connect to something so much greater than ourselves. This feeling is the beauty Camus wrote about. I have felt it all of my life, since I was a little girl tramping through New England woods with her cat companion. When I read Camus’ words that externalized the awe and beauty I had always felt in nature, these words sent me down a path of studying literature and poetry, because it is only in art that I have found anything close to describing the reality of love that is always holding us, be it in the earth beneath our feet or the gentle breeze that every time I stop long enough to listen, picks up exactly where she left off, her textures of presence, calling me home.

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