We Need Wild Spaces
I’m feeling sad today, sad and angry. In my body, I feel a kind of numb drowsiness, and also a deep volcanic uprising in the core of my chest. And so I feel this, and breathe, and feel, and try not to turn away as I tell you about it.
One of the last local, walkable wild spaces near my home is being levelled by huge machinery as I type these words. I am filled with grief… a complicated mess of feelings and sensations.
Rather than turning away and distracting myself from the discomfort of my feelings, I’m going to gently try to be present to them, and write about them here. My greatest hope is that speaking up about the devastation of this land, and the impact it has had on me and so many others will help to being healing and make amends.
Though the land that I speak of is “private property,” it’s been well loved by the people and critters around here. It was sold to developers despite years of neighbours’ amazing efforts negotiating with the City in an attempt to preserve this wild space.
It’s the kind of place you may have been lucky to have near you growing up, a rarity for so many of us now.
Did you have a wild space to play in, adventure in, and bring your worries and tears to when you were a kid? Can you remember your favourite spot, the place you’d go to, just to be? How do you feel as you remember being in this wild space? Can you remember the feeling of being a part of this wild space, every breath you take, and every part of you a part of nature’s rhythm?
Nature’s deep healing resources help us to connect to our own. They give us a gift of immeasurable value - a deep acceptance and love that help us remember how to just be as we are, wild, free, alive and interconnected with all living things.
I was lucky to have spent my childhood and teenage years adjacent to rambling forests and creeks. That’s where we played, that’s where I went when I needed solitude or comfort - a break from the challenges at home, a place to cry, rage, and laugh with the trees, bugs, birds, frogs and the streams.
I moved to Guelph from downtown Toronto soon after my child was born. I didn’t really know why exactly, but I felt a strong intuitive pull that I couldn’t ignore.
When I look back now, I know that part of the pull was that I wanted my son to have the same access to wild space, to freedom, and joy, and creativity, and the deep loving nurturing support of nature that I had growing up.
After 10 years of cherishing this last bit of wild space near us, just when my son is old enough to go there alone, it’s being taken away. And I’m angry. More than angry - I’m raging.
When I feel into this rage, I imagine myself exhaling fire. I imagine standing up to those monstrous machines and the greed and lack of leadership behind them with sword and shield. I imagine slaying them, one by one, protecting the land, the water, all the living things there. I exhale now, feeling a deep sense of relief, and also some vulnerability at speaking about my rage out loud. The rage shifts now to a gentler feeling: a strong feeling of courage, and with it, a soft rain of tears.
As I bear witness with eyes and heart wide open to the destruction before me, a different kind of warrior emerges. This warrior doesn’t need to meet violence with violence, but needs to speak up for, and not turn away from the heart breaking anguish and fear I feel for what the future holds, for our children, and their children… for the destruction of our wild spaces, inside and out, in the name of progress, private property, and personal profit over community wellbeing.
And so I bow in grief and sorrow to the natural world that we are an intrinsic part of for the shortsightedness of my people through the ages who have abused our wild spaces, our birthright, in the name of “private property.”
I raise my head and cheer for all of those countless loving warriors who are courageously speaking up for, actively fighting, bearing witness to, and protecting the land and water that our lives and wellbeing depend on.
And I pray to all of creation to help us learn to share, value and protect what is most sacred to us, not only for future generations, but for life itself.
With Love and Hope, Lisa
Thank you Andrea Munk, Tara Embley, and Erin O'Reilly from the Howitt Creek Witness -Observing the Destruction of the Former Lafarge Lands for permission to use these photos. And thank you to all the people all over the world fighting to protect our wild spaces.