An Unspoken Hunger
The Coyote Clan

Bearing Witness

Nattadon Dawn

From "An Interview with Terry Tempest Williams" by Jana Bouck Remy in Irreantum (2002):

"I do not write every day," says Williams. "I write to the questions and issues before me. I write to deadlines. I write out of my passions. And I write to make peace with my own contradictory nature. For me, writing is a spiritual practice. A small bowl of water sits on my desk, a reminder that even if nothing is happening on the page, something is happening in the room -- evaporation. And I always light a candle when I begin to write, a reminder that I have now entered another realm, call it the realm of the Spirit. I am mindful that when one writes, one leaves this world and enters another.

Nattadon Dawn

"My books are collages made from journals, research, and personal experience. I love the images rendered in journal entries, the immediacy that is captured on the page, the handwritten notes. I love the depth of ideas and perspective that research brings to a story, be it biological or anthropological studies or the insights brought to the page by the scholarly work of art historians.

Nattadon Dawn

"When I go into a library, I feel like I am a sleuth looking to solve a mystery. I am completely inspired by the pursuit of knowledge through various references. I read newpapers voraciously. I love what newspapers say about contemporary culture. And then you go back to your own perceptions, your own words, and weigh them against all you have brought together. I am interested in the kaleidoscope of ideas, how you bring many strands of thought into a book and weave them together as one piece of coherent fabric, while at the same time trying to create beautiful language in the service of the story. This is the blood work of the writer.

Nattadon Dawn

"Writing is also about a life engaged. And so, for me, community work, working in the schools or with grassroots conservation organizations is another critical component of my life as a writer. I cannot separate the writing life from a spiritual life, from a life as a teacher or activist or my life intertwined with family and the responsibilities we carry within our own homes. Writing is daring to feel what nurtures and breaks our hearts. Bearing witness is its own form of advocacy. It is a dance with pain and beauty."

Nattadon Dawn

From an interview with Terry Tempest Williams by Derrick Jensen in Listening to the Land: Conversations about Nature, Culture, and Eros:

"I've been thinking about what it means to bear witness. The past ten years I've been bearing witness to death, bearing witness to women I love, and bearing witness to the [nuclear] testing going on in the Nevada desert. I've been bearing witness to bombing runs on the edge of the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge, bearing witness to the burning of yew trees and their healing secrets in slash piles in the Pacific Northwest and thinking this is not so unlike the burning of witches, who also held knowledge of heading within their bones. I've been bearing witness to traplines of coyotes being poisoned by the Animal Damage Control. And I've been bearing witness to beauty, beauty that strikes a chord so deep you can't stop the tears from flowing. At places as astonishing as Mono Lake, where I've stood knee-deep in salt-water to watch the fresh water of Lee Vining Creek flow over the top like water on vinegar....It's the space of angels. I've been bearing witness to dancing grouse on their leks up at Malheur in Oregon.

Nattadon Dawn

"Bearing witness to both the beauty and pain of our world is a task that I want to be part of. As a writer, this is my work. By bearing witness, the story that is told can provide a healing ground. Through the art of language, the art of story, alchemy can occur. And if we choose to turn our backs, we've walked away from what it means to be human."

Nattadon DawnDawn breaks in the hills above Chagford


Bare Witness: A Prophecy

It is a dance with pain and beauty”—Terry Tempest Williams

One must strip naked to witness,
down to the essential nature,
where truth and honor are words
that cut through our fragile shield of skin.
Wind seeks entrance through our pores
rain seeps into the brain case.
Sun burnishes, moon polishes.
We are naked in the universe, believe it.

The poet walks through aching trees,
tossing petals like a child at a wedding,
seeing the music, hearing the colors,
all the while stepping on thorns.

Who are we to close our eyes
when all around us the little natures
are witness to our witlessness?
This land is our inheritance,
it is all we have, all that will remember us
when the body house is pillaged and gone.
Strip naked and bare witness
for all of us will be joined
to this nature in the end.

©2012 Jane Yolen All rights reserved

We need naked eyes, ears and brains sometimes. Strip off the clothings of expectations, opinions of others and detritus of daily living. Then we can truly bare to witness without barriers.

Acknowledge the croak of the migrating bird, the squeal of the hunting owl. Recognise the scream of the fox and witness the loss and renewal of green. Harbour and comfort the child and, above all, share the panopoly of the world.

Such good tonic for the morphing soul this morning.

I love her ritual of placing a bowl of water on the desk and lighting a candle when she begins to write-creating the space of Angels for herself-beautiful and so needed this morning.

A deep pool of wisdom and nourishment this morning...

good soul food this thank you Terri for sharing these words by Terry Tempest Williams, her book "Finding Beauty in a Broken World" broke my heart over and over again to the point where I would have to put it aside for awhile to recover, there are no easy answers in our beautiful but terribly broken world.

this broken heart keeps mending. the beauty of the world--unending

i hear her voice when i read her words, and how strong they are, how huge.

So very true.

How marvelous, and how true are her words. And Jane, another beautiful and breath catching poem.

'This land is our inheritance, it is all we have'

Oh yes.

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