Julie Christine's Reviews > Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature

Wild Comfort by Kathleen Dean Moore
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The Earth offers gift after gift—life and the living of it, light and the return of it, the growing things, the roaring things, fire and nightmares, falling water and the wisdom of friends, forgiveness. My god, the gift of forgiveness, time and the scouring tides. How does one accepts gifts as great as these and hold them in the mind?

Seeking to make sense out of a series of personal tragedies, professor of philosophy, writer, and social activist Kathleen Dean Moore turned away from the social world and toward the natural.

Turning over rocks, literally, and scrap metal (oh the snakes! I never knew!), hiking in rain forests and through deserts, tracking migrating salmon and prowling cougar, chasing sunsets and becoming lost then found on trails covered by snowfall, Moore finds gladness amidst sorrow.

This is a collection of essays and meditations that have appeared over the years in various publications, so they are loosely knit by the theme of finding redemption in the natural world. Moore's style is poetic and thoughtful, gentle and open- in direct contrast with the often abrupt and heartless way that nature has of carrying on with the business of life and death. But each essay is intimate and poignant, full of gratitude and hope.

Of particular pleasure for this reader were the moments spent in her home of Corvallis, OR, where she teaches at Oregon State. I spent part of my childhood here and her memories mingled with my own, comfort leading to comfort.

At this time, when the personal and political are so fraught with change and uncertainty, Wild Comfort brought respite from the anxiety. It was a reminder that life cycles endlessly, that sorrow and joy can coexist, that
The earth holds every possibility inside it, and the mystery of transformation, one thing into another. This is the wildest comfort.

I ached while reading this, ache now while writing this review, to set out-drop out, more precisely-into the world and reconnect with the essential. To unpack my grief and lay it out to dry on a bush while I set up camp in silence, a silence absent of the voices of men but filled with the sounds of the Earth shifting and breathing and changing all around me.
I don’t know what despair is, if it’s something or nothing, a kind of filling up or an emptying out. I don’t know what sorrow does to the world, what it adds or takes away. What I think I do know now is that sorrow is part of the Earth’s great cycles, flowing into the night like cool air sinking down a river course. To feel sorrow is to float on the pulse of the Earth, the surge from living to dying, from coming into being to ceasing to exist. Maybe this is why the Earth has the power over time to wash sorrow into a deeper pool, cold and shadowed. And maybe this is why, even though sorrow never disappears, it can make a deeper connection to the currents of life and so connect, somehow, to sources of wonder and solace.
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Reading Progress

January 27, 2017 – Started Reading
January 27, 2017 – Shelved
January 27, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
January 29, 2017 –
page 31
12.11% "'The Earth offers gift after gift—life and the living of it, light and the return of it, the growing things, the roaring things, fire and nightmares, falling water and the wisdom of friends, forgiveness. My god, the gift of forgiveness, time and the scouring tides. How does one accepts gifts as great as these and hold them in the mind?'"
February 1, 2017 –
page 89
34.77% "Is it a mistake to look to the world to tell us the meaning of our plummeting lives? Maybe we all have the power to shape our own structure, the structure of our metaphoric wings, what lifts us—our character maybe, call it our spirit. We all in our own ways catch the light of the world and reflect it back, and this is what is bright and surprising about a person, this rainbow shimmer created from colorless structure."
February 4, 2017 –
page 131
51.17% ""Patience" comes from the same roots as "petals"—to open like a flower, to unfurl, to receive the stroke of a moth's tongue, the ministrations of a bee. And so we given "patient" and "passionate". The philosopher Spinoza thought that passion was the opposite of action: to be acted upon rather than to act. And so a heron is passionate—open, unresisting, transparent, exquisitely aware, a single still point of clarity."
February 5, 2017 – Shelved as: american-west
February 5, 2017 – Shelved as: best-of-2017
February 5, 2017 – Shelved as: bio-autobio-memoir
February 5, 2017 – Shelved as: pacific-northwest
February 5, 2017 – Shelved as: read-2017
February 5, 2017 – Shelved as: social-political-commentary
February 5, 2017 – Shelved as: travel-narrative
February 5, 2017 – Shelved as: writing-companions
February 5, 2017 – Finished Reading

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