What my body knows
The story my body wants to tell is that my body and the body of Earth are One.
Our power and the power of Earth are intrinsically bound in generosity and regeneration, not scarcity and sacrifice. Renewal, abundance, retreat and restoration are the seasons within us.
But we forget what real power looks like – because the power of the patriarchy has disguised what hurts us as what we deserve. The assaults on my body are akin to the assaults wounding the body of Earth, but I am human and that alone makes me complicit in the degradation and sacrilege of Nature. Atonement is possible.
The story my body wants to tell is that she is tired.
She is tired of running on fumes, the same fumes killing the planet by burning coal and oil and gas. The story of my body is exhaustion. Am I listening? She is telling me that the energy I count on is a false energy, a lie sputtering from the flames of sheer will, fear and illusion.
The story my body wants to tell is that she is grieving.
She is sick from not being heard, or seen, or cared for, while I am taking care of everyone else except my own beloved body, my one and only body – flesh of my flesh called Earth.
My body understands I take her for granted, and why wouldn’t I? We are conditioned, as women, to believe there is divine purpose in busyness and distraction – forgetting ourselves, forgetting the soul-needs of our children: the soil, the air, savannas and forests, wetlands and oceans. My body is my collaborator, whether I think about her or not. She continues to construct my health and wellbeing in the blood and bones of my body, even as my nervous system registers danger and adrenal glands sound the alarm. Every muscle and organ is inflamed with the heartache of this burning world.
The story my body wants to tell is a warning.
Our bodies and the body of Earth are changing quickly, alchemically, through the violence of climate collapse. We are supporting a collective death by suicide. But our indigenous sisters, like the Women of Bears Ears, mentors in the red rock desert of southern Utah, are committed to “the rematriation of Mother Earth”, bringing forth harmony and wholeness from the wisdom and ceremonies passed on to them through generations. New rituals tapping the hearts of women worldwide are being born commensurate with this moment. Our ancestors are with us. With our hands on the Earth, we will know what to do. Earth care is self-care.
The story my body wants to tell is a story of love.
It is time to lay our bodies down on the Mother and defend her creation – we breathe – we breathe ourselves back into the insistence of Beauty. Our tears will fall as rain in the desert, in sorrow and relief. We will rise, drenched in joy, and lead. Our bodies on Earth, of Earth, for Earth will be fearless – keening and singing, chanting and dancing, circling the planet in defiance and prayer, as our stay against extinction, both human and wild. We locate the pulse that refuses to cease – because what my body knows is: life follows life.
Terry Tempest Williams is a writer, conservationist and activist