“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” ~ The Talmud
Pebble mosaic with selfie shadow. September 2021
Where does one find hope in the midst of apocalyptic times?
I began work on these pebble works in early July, under the “heat dome” that overshadowed much of western North America. At the same time, smoke from forest fires throughout British Columbia began to spread across the skies, and cast shadow across the riverside beach.
I began to question myself–and others–about what hope is, what it feels like, where it is found, when the challenges ahead have no clear fix, no concrete solutions, no end date on the calendar.
This was my state of mind when I began River Triptych, this summer’s pebble installation (see my previous post). The inspiration was simple–I am fascinated by the colour palate presented by the tiny chips of rock on the beach, which served as background to last summer’s mandala. I wondered if I could paint the beach simply by collecting and spreading these tiny stones.
A smoky afternoon on the Highwood River
I cast the pebbles in three sets of three stripes (because I came up with nine sets of colour). The result was somewhat unsatisfactory, so I left it for a few weeks. In the spirit of collaboration, by the time I returned someone had added matching stone “hearts” to the bands of colour. A few tweaks to the composition, the addition of more chips to intensify the hue, and River Triptych was complete.
In late August, as I photographed the images of this series hope, maybe, I envisioned myself in a cave, discovering marks of hope left on the walls by long ago ancestors. An serendipitous introduction to the concept of Eco Grief, time spent pondering the sources of hope in the work of hopeful environmentalists (see below), and a summer finding strength in the bonds of friends, family, and nature have helped me find my footing, even on the rocks.
Some Resources for Eco Grief work:
the Existential Toolkit – A Growing Hub of Resources for Climate Justice Educators https://www.existentialtoolkit.com/
Jennifer Atkinson, https://www.drjenniferatkinson.com
Jennifer Atkinson, Facing It: Episode 4: Coping with Climate Despair in Four Steps https://soundcloud.com/jenniferwren/episode-4-coping-with-climate#t=0:00