August 15, 2020

Mary Kerns

Have you ever had a day – I’m sure you have – where you realized the way you looked at a little part of your daily world has completely changed? Usually at first it is just a small noticing, but sometimes if you stay with it, you realize that a window has opened.  A veil has been lifted showing you a new perspective on your life or a peek into the long story of our Mother Earth. 

I have lived at our current house since we had it built for us in 2003.  2 acres, with one of those acres going over the hill into a forested area in the back half of the lot.  When they cleared the front half of the lot to build the house, a lot of the trees were just pushed over the hill, and being low on funds and less aware at that point in my life, I remember thinking what a mess they made, but thought I couldn’t do anything about it and it felt unstable to walk on with all the debris.  And being busy with 2 kids, running a business, travel, and aging and dying parents, I rarely if ever walked past the tree line at the edge of the yard.   For 17 years.   I am embarrassed to say that now, especially because I often drive several miles to the state forest to go hiking.  I always like being in the woods.    

Two years ago I had made friends with the hemlock that lives on the edge of the forest and sometimes sat under her low hanging arms especially on hot days when the cool wind blew up from the creek bed over the hill and I would feel the touch of her fingers whisper to me.  But still, I never ventured further.  Last fall, I saw a large vine that had grown to the top of a tree on the edge of the yard, and decided it had to go… and that led to spending the next month cutting out huge vines.  Once I got back into the forest, I saw they had already pulled down several medium sized trees.  This strongly invasive vine is oriental bittersweet, and some of the vines were as large as my forearm. 

All during this time and maybe for a while before in the summer, I was hearing “heal the land”.  Not actually spoken to me, but a knowing.   And it meant “heal THIS land”.  And I was like “really?”  This suburban lot, near a four-lane highway, home for a few deer, but nothing special?  And the answer was “YES, this land.   It matters.   Start here.” 

So somehow, the clearing of the vines was part of that.  I was angry at them at first.  They were other, they were the bad guy, how could they pull down beloved trees?   I hacked and whacked away, careful not to disturb the other plants.  Then, I saw the way these twisted vines made beautiful shapes, and I started to collect them and dry them and use them in my weaving. 

Then one day I saw the bigger picture.! I had made a path into the forest.  I had found a favorite log to sit on.   I was walking out to the forest most every day.  I had found my way down to the creek.   And I realized that the vines that I had been working so hard against had brought me here.   And I cried!  I cried for the vines.

In one hand I was the instrument of pruning and taming the vines, setting boundaries, while in the other I was developing a deep love for this vine that was strong enough to help heal a pile of ruined tree debris all those years ago.  And the curves of these vines now grace my studio with their exquisite spiraling dance captured in the hardwood.  And this summer?  There feels like more balance in the forest.  More air to breathe, room for new growth.

The forest at the edge of my yard is now for me another reality that I can step into anytime I want to, or anytime the forest calls.  Like walking into the edge of the cornfield in “Field of Dreams”,  It is a veil that I can walk through and be with the heart of our Earth Mother, and instantly everything is a different, -time slows and disappears.  The deep time, the long story of the Earth is palpable all around me.  And I am so glad She called me to this healing, for me and for Her.  

10 thoughts on “IT STARTS HERE

  1. Carol

    Aaahhhh Mary❤️
    How inspiring this is! Makes me want to venture into my backyard forest 💚
    You have a gift for putting things into words, writing…
    Loved this writing and love you!!

  2. ednamariethomas


    “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Martin Luther King, Jr./Amos 5:24


  3. Beautiful Mary. It reminds me of where I live. Which is in nature. We have the Pecos Wilderness out my back yard but it’s taken me 5 years to feel comfortable enough to venture out without thinking I’d get lost. I had been walking my dog on our rural road all this time. And now, I’m so greatful to trust my inner compass and guidance and HER, that I won’t get lost. Amen to discovery and being gentle with ourselves and our growth. Your site is beautiful!

  4. Careasa

    A very lovely way to heal yourself and the land. I think I saw one of those very interesting looking vines in a weaving you had shown me, and it was full of personality.

  5. Amanda

    Thank you for this dive into your knowing. The journey you took to respect her, now rewards you with her sweet solemn… sacred place. Magic. You’re an inspiration to me, Aunt Mary.

  6. Mandy Danesteh-Porter

    How wonderful🌸
    It is amazing how the world
    In front of our nose truly does expand and open once we stop rushing passed it. I’m glad you discovered your woods Mary. I’m glad you met your plant species neighbors and even made a few graceful friends🌸

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