Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Racism, PTSD, and Nature, OH MY!

It was about 5 years into my recovery from Lyme disease, Autumn 2014.  The trees were just about bare.  The skies greyer more days a week, waking up to frost consistently. One afternoon, I heard a cry from the forest just on the other side of the pond.  It repeated itself over and over, somehow penetrating my body deeper, my psyche sharply, my heart like an arrow with every cry.  By two or three cries in, I found myself on all fours, wailing some primal wail, crying some ancient cry.  It overtook me that day as it would for the remaining two seasons.  The cry was of a baby red tail hawk and it would cry at random maybe 3 times a week in long successive screeches.  When it hit my ears and my heart, it registered as my young teenage self crying the sounds I couldn't utter back then.

Mid-cry I'd be reliving a scene from high school.  A scene where many of my white friends whispered and pulled away, my teachers did the same.  My teacher had called me a nigger to prove a point that calling homosexuals faggots was wrong.  He made a point at my expense with ongoing fallout for two years until I graduated.  A wound that would not heal for a couple decades, something I was sure I'd forgotten and let go of.  Every time that red hawk cried, I was right back there, 16 years old, in the hallways of a mostly white suburban sprawl high school, feeling something that couldn't even be called alone.  I felt like I didn't matter.  Despite my own and my family's cries of pain and outrage my experience didn't matter to the community and so somewhere in the hidden recesses of my mind my feelings on this and my experience no longer mattered to me either...until two years ago.  I stuffed it down with the community's urging.  The red tail yanked it back up to be healed. 

It took the cries of a young red tail hawk to awaken the numbed pains in me, give air and sunshine to the frightened places packed away.  It took being still, in nature, developing a relationship with it, letting nature in, in deep, letting the conversation transform me.  Thank you Red Tail Hawk.  Thank you all who rally and support for black voices to be heard particularly in this pivotal sliver of history. 

I remembered some portion of my wholeness through Nature.  Step outside, remember the red tail, remember me, take in those shimmering leaves, that cool air.  Look and listen and feel Nature holding you.  Let God/Grace/Love hold you.  Let this divine Mother Nature hold you until the veils come flying off and your wholeness is revealed anew. 

If you live in the Berkshires or close by, COME JOIN THE MONTHLY COMMUNITY PRAYER VIGIL.  INTERRACIAL, INTERFAITH, INTERGENERATIONAL...LETS GET TA HEALIN'.  Don't let our youth hold onto to the traumas we're now witnessing and experiencing.  Lets hold space on a regular basis to heal this experience together.  (BEGINNING EARLY NOVEMBER, TBA.  STAY TUNED.)


  1. Wonderful post, Liz. I'm so sorry that happened to you, and I agree about the healing power of Mother Nature/Gaia!

  2. Beautiful sharing, Liz. So nice to "hear" your voice, your cries. The voice of your healing...

  3. Thank you for sharing this...childhood trauma never really goes away does it? Miss you dear...look forward to joining you for this if I am free! xoxo

  4. Thanks homie sisters for your comments:**

    Kelly, "does trauma every go away?", you asked. It occurs to me that it may never go away but with time, grace, dowsing ourselves in love around it, the suffering of the trauma diminishes, and yes, I think even goes away. I think the places that are wounded can be healed but there will be scars that no longer trigger a person into spiraling into the hells like they did before. That is my experience.

    I know sometimes we have the fear of even giving the wounds any air b/c we're afraid if we feel the pain, it will be forever. If we start crying that we'll never stop. But its not true. I think that every time theres a new thing to look at. I thought that when the red tail hawk would start up again. It took several months of those spontaneous cries and releases but it did stop. To this day, this same hawk has come by and cried when I need it. I no longer still have the knee-jerk full body convulsion from it. Now its just a gentle reminder to really honor what Im deeply feeling, my inner softer voices. Now its a joy to hear that hawk. We even had a time yesterday later afternoon. He flew above circling, circling. I ran out to the yard and flew/ran with him around around til he flew beyond the pines. What was before a trigger for convulsions of pain to release is now a trigger for running free and joyful.

    That's what happened to me. Im not special. It can happen to anyone. I was just gifted a disease for many years that allowed me to slow down to hear, connect, and release in this way. I hope this triggers similar releases for others.

    So blessed by your question. Thank you.