Anne: I Would Have Howled

This is the third guest post in an ongoing series: Beyond Native American Appropriation: Cultivating a Personal, Nature-Based Spirituality.

Do you feel it? The warm sun breaking through the grey October sky, lighting up your shoulders, like grace, like morning, like home? It’s a cup full of sunshine, just for you.

I hope I’m not betraying her by telling you this, but Anne was concerned that her story would be too simple to share. But as it is with all of us, I think she doesn’t know how much she communicates between the lines, just with her very presence. If you visit her blog, you will discover grace, style, grounded wisdom and something else…something that tugs on your heart and beckons you on to a dusty road on a late summer afternoon. Anne is a mama extraordinaire to four (amazingly beautiful) children, with number five on the way. But I sometimes forget it, since her soul speaks like a desert wanderer, in communion with God and beauty. Anne’s story is like one of those tiny, gourmet, chocolate pastries that you find in a secret (or in SF, on every corner) french bakery. You sit down with your espresso and treat and although it is gone in 10 minutes, you are utterly satisfied, a smile on your face.

Two things I specifically love about Anne’s post: She is a devout Catholic, but this does not preclude connecting with nature and non-human others. This is such a crucial illustration for getting away from appropriation. This connection is our birthright and non-denominational. If we use New Age language, what and who may it be at the expense of? How can we use our words to be inclusive, regardless of belief?

The other point is best said by Byrd BaylorTrees don’t care much for fancy people. A spiritual connection to nature is not something that needs to be put on parade, or something that requires a utility belt from Five and Diamond. Nature connection is straight up, simple and real.

So allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite people, and I invite you to visit her blog or at her etsy shop. I miss you dear! Hosting you in this space is almost as good as having a little visit.

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The summer before last we visited gorgeous Sedona, Az. At the time I was reading, “An Unspoken Hunger” by Terry Tempest Williams and had arrived at the chapter In Cahoots With Coyote. In this chapter she tells a story of a time she was speaking to a group of Mormons about the spirituality of nature. She says,

I opened my scriptures and spoke of the earth, the desert, how much nature mirrors our own. I began to read from the Doctrine of Covenants, section 88, verse 44- “And the Lord spoke…” when all at once, a pack of coyotes behind the rocks burst forth in a chorus of howls. 

 God’s dogs.

 I was so overcome with delight at the perfectness of this moment, I forgot all religious protocol and joined them. Throwing back my head, I howled too-and invited the congregation to do likewise-which they did.”

I finished the chapter with a smile on my face. That night we went on a stargazing tour which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. Many constellations were pointed out and we saw Saturn, the moon and much more through the telescope. Midway through the tour, a short distance away, a pack of coyotes began to howl. As you can imagine I was quite excited! Everyone sat quietly listening and just as I* tipped my head back to respond, another pack howled back to the first. They went back and forth for several minutes. I could have listened for an hour but it was over all too soon. It really was a magical experience, one I won’t soon forget!

Mary, thank you so much for sharing my short, little story here on your beautiful blog!

*Ok, as much as I’d like to say I would have howled, in reality I wouldn’t have. Not with all those strangers around. And as you read, there was no need for it since the other pack of coyotes answered back for me 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Anne: I Would Have Howled

  1. what a perfect little gem of a story, anne. i just love to picture you out there amongst the wild howling coyotes with your own little pack. maybe just you and your kids would have howled back if you were alone together, but i love the title of this for the pure simplicity and perfection of the moment…there was no need to howl…the responding group voiced your energies to the night sky and to the earth and to their relations., and allowed you to stay present and deeply connected right there in the core of yourself. i love your very natural approach to spirituality, finding joy and divine presence among the small and big wonders of the natural world.

    and mary, what an interesting point you made about new age language and who it may exclude! i had never even thought of the dilemmas of native appropriation in quite that way, but how very true it seems. if it becomes “hippy dippy” or new agey or “tribal” to commune, whether silently or with loud howls to the moon, then who is too turned-off, too annoyed, or too weirded out to think that’s cool?! is that what terry tempest williams meant when she mentioned “forgetting all religious protocol”? is the implication that this group of mormons (and of course her books are especially meaningful to me since i grew up mormon, although i was encouraged to have many spiritual experiences in nature….) may never have experienced this moment given the hint of counterculture experience, if terry hadn’t been there to lead and encourage them, normalizing their experience? that some people, on the far other side of the coin from those plastic shamans, have a real mistrust for and perhaps fear of this more nature-based spirituality, because of the very dimensions within which it often exists. so much one misses out on if we are not open minded, careful with our choices and our beliefs, and yet willing to feel what is real and vital within our own spirits.

    1. THIS “if it becomes “hippy dippy” or new agey or “tribal” to commune, whether silently or with loud howls to the moon, then who is too turned-off, too annoyed, or too weirded out to think that’s cool?” is exactly it! you nailed it heather!

  2. mary, what a nice intro! thank you so much for your kind words. i love the quote from Byrd Baylor, it’s very true!
    i SO wish i was hanging out again with you this weekend! miss you too 🙂 i hope you have an amazing birthday, you deserve it!

  3. Awesome Anne, this is such a sweet little illustration of how the right book, or song can give you the perspective, or words for an experience, or simply make you feel in tune with the world, in commune if you will. I think Mary’s point about not excluding anyone is a really important one. If the NA community claims commune with nature that excludes everyone outside that framework and Lord and everyone else knows we need more folks loving and caring for the Earth. Howl away dear Anne!

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