“We have physically created wounded places on the Earth, and that is exacerbated by us ignoring them. Becoming whole in ourselves and in the way we approach existence is the beginning of healthy, dynamic systems. It’s exactly a parallel to our own inner psyche. The parts we cut out and don’t want to look at are the ones that cause us the most trouble. And if we look at them and pay attention to them, they shift.”
This comment by Kinde Nebeker (standing in the center in the photo above, at her 2011 Global Earth Exchange in Salt Lake City) of Salt Lake City zeroes in on one of the subtle but vitally important aspects of the practice and the path that is Radical Joy for Hard Times Earth Exchanges: that actually going to wounded places strengthens the bond between person and place, brings new life to the place, and empowers people to act with more energy and more compassion on behalf of what they love.
We all wish, naturally, not to be uncomfortable. Hence we avoid the things that we fear will make us sad or angry or embarrassed or guilty—or any of a host of other emotions we’d rather avoid. Avoidance, of course, doesn’t make the shunned thing vanish. It only makes it grow and fester there in the dark where we try to hide it. It grows bigger. It pops out of its hiding place when we least expect it, causing problems and making us even more determined to keep it hidden.
When we decide, once and for all, to take a look at what’s wriggling there down unseen, we’re often surprised to see how mild it is. How, instead of sinking us in despair, the attention we give it actually liberates us. Dealing consciously with what we discover enables us to bring to the problem new understanding, peace of mind, and creative solutions.
As Kinde observes, the same is true about wounded places. When people go to polluted rivers, eroded hills, farms torn up for gas drilling, or abandoned industrial sites like the one Kinde and her friends honored in the 2011 Global Earth Exchange, they discover that, far from depressing them, the encounter fills them with a sense of community, creativity, empowerment, and even joy.