Can you smell the woodsmoke too? Hearing the call of the earth


Agnes Becker, a white woman with brown hair, stands in a wood holding an oak call and a wooden basket. She wears a burgundy jumper and brown rucksack.
It was 2.5 hours into a 3 hour long meeting in a windowless basement room of the university where I was working. My research team were presenting to their funders. Trying to show them that the money they'd given us had been well spent. I'd finished my presentation. It was kind of them to invite me talk - I'm not sure anyone was really that interested.
 
I was fidgeting in my set, restless (I find sitting down for long periods of time difficult - even more so in a room without windows). As I sat there doodling something shifted and my mind took me to a damp woodland, pines towering all around, the smell of wood smoke in the air. I was wearing a long dress and carrying logs for the fire.
 
Just that one moment, nothing else. The Pines. The logs. The woodsmoke. The dress. It felt like a deep remembering in my body of where I should be.
 
It was one of many callings I'd had that the life I was living wasn't right for me. I longed for mud on my boots, trees around me, the scent of woodsmoke, the feel of bark.
 
In Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Mother Night Lecture Series she tells a story of a man who hears the call as a bell buried deep in the earth, chiming, calling...and looking back that is what this moment moment was. A calling.
 
It's hard to listen to that calling of the wild deep inside us. Our culture tells us it's a luxury to spend time in green places and yet for millennia that is how us humans have evolved - in close collaboration with the more-than-human world as a part of nature. Deep in our bones and DNA, there's a remembering. 
 
We aren't meant to be sitting in front of screens for most of our days, our bodies evolved to be part of the Earth, to walk us through landscapes, to seek out fresh water and berries and to hunt. 
 
It's taken me a long time to listen to that call. But doing so has changed me because it's not just remembering that we are part of nature, it's a returning home both to myself and to our ultimate home - the Earth.
 
As you type the email, sit in a meeting, rush around the supermarket can you smell the woodsmoke too? 
 
If so, perhaps it's time to listen to the call and immerse yourself in green spaces for a while…

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