Reflections on a world pandemic: nature as a positive source
By Rosie Burrows
Reflections | This edition’s reflective think piece was contributed by Rosie Burrows, PhD, a highly accomplished therapist, activist and story-teller whose bio can be found at the end of this piece
I am blessed, not cursed, as sometimes I once felt on frontlines of suicide prevention and aftermath, to be part of trauma healing and regenerative (Raworth, 2017) culture in Belfast, since childhood, though that’s a story for another day: fado, fado. To be able to absorb each evening into the cells of my being, biodiverse colours of sunset kissing the Belfast hills from north, front of home-as-practice. Scots pine, rowan, oak, and holly to back of home, along an ancient protected boundary of Holy Shephard parish, with grey castle, An Caisleán Riabhach, Castlereagh hills, behind, south. A front garden with granite and multi-coloured, gem pebbles, forming celtic spirals from Mourne mountains and Tir na Sligo, Inishowen. Here, shaking windchimes hanging off a twenty five year, pink blossoming magnolia from fellow therapist friend, Monica in Dublin, making whoop session sounds, as neighbours clap and bang not binlids but saucepans at 8pm each Thursday evening, for all frontline staff, including health and social care staff. We collectively celebrate now visible baselines of care from front doors and gardens. Nearby, on a street without gardens, children’s pictures of rainbows, handwritten Thank You, We Love You decorates windows, a neighbours yarn bomb caressing a birch tree on the path with children’s and adults handmade life (Estes, 2007) pictures and words. Tiny laminated pictures of beloved animals, rainbows, trees, flowers, and wise calming words in the storm, include poems of praise, of kindness, love and care towards self, other, and nature. Wonder-full spirit of animal, nature, music and human in best selling book by Mackesy (2019).
We are individually and collectively deeper breathing as few planes or cars bring a depth of silence that Rumi like invites our individual rivers to join the sea as waves of applause in gratitude for all the invisible and visible forces, and a step closer to sources, ground that keep us alive. Can you hear a whisper of eco-gospel, Just a Closer Walk With Thee? A solo trumpet player breaks a bar of music and I turn to my piano, responding with two bars of trad, Contentment is wealth. Most mornings rising to walk in the local forest, homestead place, Baile Uí Mhaghair, Belvoir. Sit tucked in a ledge at the foot, lean back into possibly the tallest tree in the north listening to louder than before birdsong in cleanest air since the 1950’s, and inquire in a participative prayer, with what I experience as more than human, grand eldering presence, tree intelligence (Wohbellen, 2016). Overlayers of intergenerational, cultural, personality conditioning and ego survival strategies, fall away into simplicity, felt sense soul as ecoSelf. I call this, everyday camino, an experiential, holistic integrating self with other, in a wider gestalt, in service to and with nature, my offer.
Each moment for those of us not on frontlines and with sufficient support there is the possibility to regain our foothold in nature as sacred ground and to rest, taking deeper exhales out of all that no longer serves us as a species. Stale and stagnant energy in our own lungs, inhaling in cleaner air as a blessing to the potent possibilities in fresh rhythm. Less people may be dying from air pollution than from covid-19 (McMahon, 2020), while those dying are linked in part to air pollution (The Guardian, 2020). Tragic as this virus is, and the threat it poses for many of us globally, especially those in vulnerable age, other eco-psychobiological situations, including compromised auto-immune systems (Eisenstein, 2020), there is at work if we choose an open hearted, open minded, open will (Scharmer, 2019) embodied inquiry, natural intelligence at work, offering us direct and indirect feedback on the dynamics and structure of the situation. The ancient Taoist and indigenous, including Celtic (Whelan, 2006) underlying principle of ‘nature heals’, in both creative, corrective, and unpredictably destructive ways, is the heart and soul of trauma healing and spiritually informed resilience and activism at different levels of system (Burrows, 2019). These are the days my friend, that those of us in positions of relative agency, need to sense our ethical and life sustaining choice to attune to embodied wisdom from and with the earth, to rest and continue to renegotiate with as much influence as we can collectively muster through grief for what has been lost, and in celebration of what can be and is being rewilded and refound within ourselves, each other, and Pachamama, earth.
Rosie Burrows, PhD is a senior accredited therapist, supervisor, trainer, and researcher using ‘everyday camino’ practices in personal and professional life. She has also been an award winning research practitioner, whose work includes contributing to shifting systems at all levels in recognising and transforming transgenerational trauma. She is an eco-innovating CEO of Relational Resilience, CIC, Community Interest Company, an eco-visual storyteller, and an activist with Extinction Rebellion, on Regeneration and Wellbeing. Her deepest hearts desire / intention is to love, work and play collaboratively with nature and with others across this island and internationally to support into being ‘the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible’ (Eisenstein, 2013 ) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org www.rosieburrows.com
This piece is dedicated to the earth, and to humans, animals, plants, life forms, in very vulnerable situations, including my mum, Mabel, who may reach 100 years in August, and her sister, Joyce, almost 90 years, in care homes due to natural decline and eventual, after many years, human limits of my cousin and I, and the current systems that surround.
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Mackesy, C. (2019) The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse.
McMahon, J. (2020) Study: Coronavirus Lockdown Likely Saved 77,000 Lives In China Just By Reducing Pollution. March 16, Forbes.
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The Guardian, 7 April, 2020 Air pollution linked to far higher Covid-19 death rates, study finds. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/07/air-pollution-linked-to-far-higher-covid-19-death-rates-study-finds
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