By Sherry Marr
“The soulscapes of our lives form the arc
of a heroic journey. Our quest for wholeness
and connection with the wild is a wild and sacred journey.”
—From Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness by Mary Reynolds Thompson
IN PRAISE OF THE WILD SOUL
Praise the wild soul for its ridges and canyons,
for its rivers and rapids. For its love of deep
caves and dark woods. For terrain, vast and
varied, undulating beneath spirit sky.
Praise the wild soul for its beauty, tremulous
as an aspen leaf, fierce as mother hawk. For
the way it shuns cages and breaks chains that
bind. For the way it rises, wings unfurled, on
rhythms of air. No stage holds dancers more
graceful than this.
Praise the wild soul for its intricacies, more
layered than the beaver’s dam, more complex
than the termites’ hill. Praise its wholeness, no
part left out, everything belonging.
Darkness gathers. My heart fills with fore-
boding at our human frailties.
But I have faith.
I am telling you now:
I believe in the wild soul.
This poem by Mary Reynolds Thompson expresses much of how I feel about our connection with the wild world, so necessary and integral to our well-being, and my foreboding at how so many have become deaf to the wild ones’ cries.
My connection with the wild has sustained me through years of trauma, turbulence and loss. Through it all, Mother Nature has been my best lover. The beauty of the earth has gotten me through the worst and best years of my life, as I walked along, head tipped back and grinning at the sky.
For years, raising my kids in Kelowna, lake and desert country, I saw its beauty, but felt I was in the wrong landscape. The wild shores and the old growth forests of Clayoquot Sound sang a siren song to me years before I journeyed here, before I ever beheld the perfection of its beauty. Its song captured my heart and imagination, drawing me to it as surely as a murrelet is drawn to its nest, a migrant whale to her feeding ground.
My inner Wild Woman came alive when I moved to Tofino the first time, in 1989. Immediately I stepped onto the beach, felt the energy of this power place, that questing, seeking voice in me was stilled, replaced by joy and gratitude and the certain knowledge I was in my soul’s home where I was meant to be.
Wild Woman got even wilder when Pup, my very alpha wolf-dog, found me. We gamboled joyously along the shore, explored every forest trail, in every weather. When we had to leave, we mourned its loss together, but found other wild rivers and forest trails to walk. This was a necessity for our well-being.
Those who live in cities likely feel that something-missing that is the wild world. Thankfully, cities have their share of parks and wilder spaces one can find, to make that connection we humans sorely need with the land.
For Mother Earth to heal, humanity has to either experience a societal shift, a transformation of consciousness, or else, (and this is more likely from the look of things), be forced by escalating climate crises to learn how to live as part of our ecosystem, in an integrated, rather than a dominating way.
Mary explains, “In losing our intimate relationship with the Earth, we modern humans have suffered a particular trauma that has caused our wild souls to split off…………we experience the symptoms of separation in a sense of alienation and a lack of aliveness.”
Healing the wound in nature heals the wound in ourselves, when we reconnect with Mother Earth and do what we can to help ease her wounds, and protect her forests and waters.
The way society is arranged, we are compressed into roles and boxes; making a living often takes so much effort there is little time for the actual living of life itself. Here is Mary Reynolds Thompson again:
To feel the breath of wildness come into your body is to reclaim your natural wholeness. It is to be enfolded by fields of grasses and held by the mountains’ slow and steady strength. It is to hear in your own heartbeat the thunderous roar of the ocean, reminding you that your life still belongs to the wild Earth. All you have to do is reach for her.
Different landscapes call to different people. Some are in love with deserts; some need forests, oceans and rivers; other hearts thrill to the majesty of the mountains, or swell to the vast scope of grasslands and big sky. There is beauty all around, everywhere, in the morning sky peeking at us from our back porch, and in visits from the wild world: small birds coming to our feeder, deer softly tiptoe-ing across the grass.
For your challenge: What is your wild soul’s story in relation to the landscape you love? Tell us about the place that sings you home, the one that calls to your wild spirit, the place in all the world that invites your wild Self out to play. It can be the landscape you loved in childhood and think of now when you think of Home. Or it might be a place you love right now, either where you are living, or a beloved vacation spot.
Introduce us to its topography, its special characteristics. How has your chosen landscape changed over the years? How has loving it changed you? How is it in peril? What is the land and its wild creatures saying to you?
Whatever words come to you in response to this, I will read them with great appreciation.