Listening to the Land: A Summer Solstice Song

June 14, 2016


Where does the land sing to you? And what does that song say? At Summer Solstice, we see the problems around us in sharp relief. We see the need for healing in human communities. We see the discarded trash and half-buried, forgotten belongings left behind for others to deal with. We see the violence and the suffering. We also remember our power. We are capable of making change and healing. As we willingly pick up the torch of responsibility, we join with all the other energies in the universe that are moving toward freedom, restoration and wellbeing.


At the Wissahickon in Philadelphia, the land sings a song of quiet moss. Of time and balance. This particular spot is a graceful slow dance. A ballad. It croons. It longs. It soothes.


This is my very favorite spot in the city. I’ve come to this place on hot summer days and watched the sun carry dust and pollen like glitter through air. I’ve come in the rain in the fall when the green is mostly gone and the browns and greys take prominence. It’s a place where intimacy is possible. The curved hollow of the steep hill and the tiny rocky “beach” aren’t the easiest to get to, and the towering trees provide privacy, even from bikers and runners and families on the path above.



When I went the other day, it was the first time I had been in a long time. It’s harder to get there with a toddler, and feels a little precarious. But down we went. And I was immediately struck by the way this place sings to me. The moss, the rocks, the ferns. The fast moving water. And I was struck too, as I always am, by the trash half hidden between the rocks. The plastic bottles, the discarded sock covered in sand. The corncob that will biodegrade, but not overnight.





This is nature in a city. This is my sacred place. And parted of me wanted to run from it. It’s dirty. I didn’t want my daughter to touch it. I posted a picture of her playing in the water, and a friend reminded me that the water quality is not that great. I felt guilt and worry and embarrassment for potentially exposing her to harm by playing there.


 But what the fuck!?! I am nature-loving city witch! This is at the heart of what i teach, what I believe. We’ve gotta go down. Gotta get in it. Gotta touch it, smell the wet earth and the not-sure-what with it. Gotta lean in to what is here, now.


I also know that I have to back, SOON, with an empty trash bag and some rubber gloves. I need sing my song to this river spot, bring my ability to harmonize. I need to follow up and actually JOIN “Friends of the Wissahickon” ….cause I’m pretty sure the mailer they sent me ended up as a coaster for one day, and then went into recycling. And I know that where I give my dollars, even a small amount of dollars, is an energetic commitment to healing.


I also went back to visit the river in spirit tonight. I journeyed to the bank, and the mix of feelings that lift up from the soil. There is a giant boulder there - one of the metamorphic rocks that look so beautiful and dramatic. She said “this is how you have been formed, too, by time and heat and pressure.” She said “remember that we are alike, and that we can heal together.”


This is the song of the land. Go listen! See what she says to you. 


PS. I wrote this post before the shooting in Orlando. Today I feel heavy and heartbroken. The bright light of summer solstice feels like too much. Our collective shadows feel like too much. How can we possibly heal? I don't know. But I believe our healing is intrinsically tied to one another, and to the land. Today I want to go to the river and lay down and cry and listen. "We heal together. "

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