Teri Orr: A Mother of a week
Sunday in the Park
Park Record columnist
You can see her fury, feel her shudder, hear her wrath. Hell, as the saying goes, hath no fury … The quote comes from a play by William Congreve – The Mourning Bride- written in 1697 “Heav’n has no rage like love to hatred turn’d / Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d.”
Mother Earth has loved us, provided for us, kept us safe and mostly out of harm’s way in my lifetime. But this week, this dystopian-feeling, apocalyptic-looking, acidic-smelling, fear-tasting week has even the most agnostic among us questioning if the wrath of Mother Nature/Earth Goddess, all the spirit powers that lie within her, haven’t been so infuriated She is unleashing her wrath.
I admit I may be reacting more deeply having just returned — in body — from two weeks in Sub Saharan Africa. It was just long enough to remember primal connections to the land and the animals and to people who live among it all simply, honestly, without adoration of much of what we think we need to exist. I loved every minute of being there — every person, every creature encountered in the wild, in a country where there are no fences allowed to retain the animals. That kind of peace and understanding can touch you on a cellular level and re-program assumptions and beliefs.
I was trying to explain my disconnect- so much more than jet lag- to a friend and Zach sent me this beautiful passage:
“She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.”
― William Gibson, Pattern Recognition
I returned home to devastating stories of Hurricane Harvey. I spoke to friends whose homes in Houston, in the nicest of neighborhoods, were destroyed by the storm. Mother Nature does not pick her path of destruction when She releases her fury. She is an equal opportunity force of destruction.
Just as She has turned out to be in the forest fires raging in the West, British Columbia-still-in Oregon, Idaho and Montana, where a most beloved, National Park building was used as her kindling to make a point.
In the Caribbean, island after island is being leveled with Irma and now her pals Katia and Jose, human names for inhumane occurrences. As of Friday, the loss of life has been blessedly small (unless of course, any of those less-than-50 people were your people). But the structures of the mighty and minor are being flattened with equal force.
All week here in our normal bluebird-skied fall paradise zone, the skies have rivaled Beijing, flat light, colorless. The smoke gets in our eyes and in our lungs and our headaches, I suspect along with our hearts.
One night, when our tent was surrounded by a pride of lions, I was calmly fatalistic. We had signed waivers to stay in the conservations area filled with lions and elephants and other African creatures, great and small. But here in my home less than 48 hours upon my return when my bed shook/swayed/wobbled, it woke me and left me even more disoriented than the jet lag. I grew up in California and I knew what I felt was not a dream, though I was awoken from one, it was an earthquake. As it turned out it was a sizable 5.3 quake based in Soda Springs, Idaho, where I have since learned, for the past 30 days, there have been no less than 225 smaller, subsequent quakes.
The earth is constantly moving and if you want to make yourself crazy (or in my case, crazier) you can find a site and track that stuff. The tectonic plates beneath us are shifting constantly but the frequency I am told, has increased of late.
So when I woke this morning and heard the news of an 8.2 quake off the coast in Mexico I felt the involuntary shudder of my own body. On Facebook I discovered my friend, Mark, who is currently in Mexico City to create a TED event there, describe the street as “shifting and shaking like Jello.” He managed to flee his hotel and head into the street and posted for us that he was safe. Our connectedness makes it inescapable, feeling in real time the weight of the world as it shifts and spews and whips funnels of water and wind around our collective connected heads.
The hateful rhetoric out of Washington clouds our eyes and hurts our heads and hearts, too. Deporting our youth because they weren’t born on this piece of earth but instead on that one over there. It seems ridiculous and unnecessarily cruel and honestly, a diversion to where the real fires are burning in D.C. My friend David, who is a researcher and provides background for both the Washington Post and the New York Times, told me last week, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has everything he needs. Now the talk is How. How to remove the Current Occupant…
There is much I don’t know this week about the fates and where we are moving, shifting to/from. I know this: restless souls among us have lost the pretense of patience. Those inequalities that need fixing cannot wait. Those unkind words need to be blocked. The real fault lines require self-reflection. And the distance it takes a soul to travel is a mystery not meant to be understood so much as appreciated. The compassion needed to coexist with creatures large and small needs to be polished. Reflection informs perception and is essential each day, including Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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