The Forest and the Sea
Nature as Teacher and Healer in Times of Crisis
This story is written as a chapter for a forthcoming book: 'Changing Places: Developing a Sense of Place in Australia', edited by Val Brown, John Cameron and Vicki King.
It is a re-worked version of another paper of mine - Edge of the Sacred Rainforest: Stories from Far North Queensland.
The Sea ........
Brooms Head, Northern NSW, August 1998
Opening to the Earth, I hear the sounds of her waves crashing about my ears. Surf pounding washing washing the debris of my life away away as she washes me clean. Again and again her rolling tumbling thrashing moves me throws me tumbles me churns me holds me to the surrender which only I can make to the Mystery of all that is. In her power, the sea molds me, spreads me thin, holds me fluid, surrenders me to the Great Mystery. In awe of her, I know no human can unmake her, shake her, for she IS the power of creation, the feminine salty essence of soul, origins of life on this planet.
From the water we crawled. In the water we play. On the sands of time we cartwheel freely into oblivion, shaping the future blithely without consideration for those ahead.
Yet she calls us, with the rhythms of her crashing, with the tidal pulls of water washing the beaches, sweeping away every trace of human endeavour, she calls us home to our essential nature. Moving, crying, rolling, tumbling, laughing, playing, raging, too deep to alter, ever-changing ... she calls us to her.
Nature as healer and teacher. This is how I have always known her1. I grew up by the sea, on the sand-stone shores of Sydney harbour. I had a special spot, a particular rock with warm grainy pockmarks, smelling of salt and slightly fishy, where I used to sit when troubled. Id walk the twenty minutes from our house, down the dank stone steps to Sandy Bay, and around the sunny beaches til Id get to my place. Legs dangling over that rock Id sit and watch the rhythms of the waves and the tide splashing up and over up and over the rocks and the pools, splashing sparkles of sunlight into the sky, washing my troubles away.
This was Australia to me. Feeling this mixture of sunny, salty beauteous joy and freedom, along with the pain and the confusion which came with living in a new country. When I was six, I left England with my family. I am told I did not grieve, and I am sure the excitement of this grand adventure far outweighed any sense of loss. 2
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