Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: estates ministry, grief, h is for hawk, helen macdonald, nature, nature writing, urban ministry
Right, we are back in the business of blogging. It has been a bit full of late. Perhaps not much space in the next week or so – if you pray, please remember Sammy and Frank and their families – their funerals are this week.
I will be posting a long article which is an attempt to write up last week’s excellent Conference of the Birmingham Outer Estates Group.
I have finally got round to reading Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk which is very good. I am not interested in arguments about what is or isn’t proper nature writing. This is a very good book about grief and depression and recovery and goshawks and what it is to be human in relation to nature.
This passage is well worth mulling over:
All the way home on the train I thought of Dad and the terrible mistake I had made. I’d thought that to heal my great hurt, I should flee to the wild. It was what people did. The nature books I’d read told me so. So many of them had been quests inspired by grief or sadness. Some had fixed themselves to the stars of elusive animals. Some sought snow geese. Others snow leopards. Others cleaved to the earth, walked trails, mountains, coasts and glens. Some sought wildness at a distance, others closer to home. ‘Nature in her green, tranquil woods heals and soothes all afflictions,’1 wrote John Muir. ‘Earth hath no sorrows that earth cannot heal.’
Now I knew this for what it was: a beguiling but dangerous lie. I was furious with myself and my own unconscious certainty that this was the cure I needed. Hands are for other human hands to hold. They should not be reserved exclusively as perches for hawks. And the wild is not a panacea for the human soul; too much in the air can corrode it to nothing.
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