Sickness in the forest

Delighted to have this post by Joanna Storie. With her husband, Ian, she lives in Latvia. Living on the edge would be an understatement! Working the land, raising Alpacas (along with other animals) and at the final stages of her PhD studies… A contributor at and with her own regular blog at: Read on!

I have really valued Martin’s prophecy regarding the facades coming down. I have done plenty of research over the last seven years of my life towards a PhD looking at rural communities and the challenges they face. It has revealed plenty of facades that need to come down. In these chaotic times with the Covid19 virus showing us how vulnerable our capitalistic system is, yes even in China, it is tempting to sing the songs that would help to take us back to normality. “Jesus we need you”, “Jesus be our healer” types etc. I understand why people would want to sing them, so why are they wrong? Or even are they wrong? If it makes the facades go back up, then they are. There has to be a change, but change can be scary.

So, what should we be singing and what should our focus be? How can we see this in context? Jesus focussed songs are great and there are times for them, but right now we need to be seeing the world through Jesus’ eyes. We need to see the work of the Father in our midst and get on board with that. If it means bringing down those facades, we had better make sure we are behind that and keep them down. I think it is helpful to view these changes in context. The facades are only a part of life, there is a whole world out there beyond the facades, even if like a city they dominate the landscape.

I read a lot of material put out by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (an international research centre on resilience and sustainability science) and in a recent article they suggested we should view life like a forest, where change is ongoing, but it is still a forest. They suggest that viewing things as unchangeable is not helpful as it lacks the dynamic capability to react and change. When a forest is sick, the sick trees need to be removed to give the healthy ones a chance. It is still a forest. Even if the whole forest is cut down or burnt, it is still likely to be a forest as it regenerates and grows again from the seed sown in the ashes. Even in a healthy forest, trees will die and create space for new growth, it is still a forest. The forest is in a continual state of change and yet it is still a forest.

The West’s addiction to capitalism is a sickness in our forest. The love of money, the greed it generates, the need to continually feed it and have ever lasting growth without putting anything back. It is killing life on earth. We have to remove the sickness, but in doing so it gives space for something new to grow. We don’t need one model, the perfect model, that’s a plantation and that is neither diverse nor resilient. We need the eyes of Jesus to see what the gardener is doing in our part of the forest and get alongside him and help. We are the arms, the feet of Jesus. Let us have the eyes to see what we need to do and where we need to go. Let’s bring those facades down or leave them down and let the light in to allow growth. Let your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in Heaven. What is the gardener doing in your part of the forest? What is he clearing away and what is he planting? Make sure you are not pulling up new growth that he has planted.

If you are interested in the original article that started my musings, it can be found here


2 thoughts on “Sickness in the forest

  1. Lovely post. I garden, teach landscape design and climate change resilience – so lovely that you got all that in there. Just finished touring 10 students around my eco-home, the one that took a year to sell. Why did it take a year? Because for whatever reason Canadians lacked the imagination and courage to buy a climate change ready home that also is efficient and beautiful. What more could they want?
    These students are now facing great uncertainty as all classes have been cancelled and I and their other profs must figure out how to get them through the term. I explained that such a virus would likely come back in waves and hang around for a year. That startled them as many just hope to be back to ‘normal’ in a couple of weeks. The reality of climate change (that other crisis) is that never, in their lives, will there be a back to normal. Not ever. The climate has moved on and so must we. So I see this virus as a moment for them to practice developing the skills for resilience, skills they need for the rest of their lives.
    We chatted about imagination and courage and making change. They are so ready for all of that. All they lack is leadership and the knowledge that their elders are with them. So let’s be the elders who go out with them and rip down those facades. Those facades are part of the aesthetic of death and our young people are hungry for life. Let’s help them figure out what life looks like in a climate changed world. Their forest will host different tree species but we can still have a forest!

    1. I’m glad it resonated with you Ann. I know we share many of the same thoughts and similar fields of academia. I’m not in the teaching end, at least not yet, but I love to encourage my fellow students on their journeys. As you say they are so ready for life and I get very defensive of that generation.

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