Planting Seeds

Planting Seeds

Planting Seeds: Empowering our Children with Ways to Protect the Environment while Cultivating the Earth

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Reaching Refuge

I was thrilled to be lucky enough to lead the class discussion with Justin on Regufe: An Unnatural History of Family and Place as it has been my favorite reading thus far. Not only was it a very personal experience for me as my Mom battled breast cancer in 1997, but I thought Terry Tempest Williams detailed the experience exceptionally well. There was a way in which I was able to understand and carry the idea of my Mom’s cancer that I had previously been unable or afraid to do. Fortunately, my mom has been in remission since she finished chemotherapy and radiation in 1998, so I did not experience the great pain of losing someone as Terry Tempest Williams had to. However, I felt such familiarity with her writing that evoked an eerie sense of the past in a way I never thought was possible.
I found Tempest Willliams’ style incredibly moving and inspiring despite the rather difficult subject matter. Her perseverance had a striking similarity to myself

‘Just let it go,’ mother would say. ‘You know how you feel, that’s what counts.’ For many years I have done just that – listened, observed, and quietly formed my own opinions, in a culture that rarely asks questions because it has all the answers. But one by one, I have watched the women in my family die common, heroic deaths…..The price of obedience has become too high.

Tempest Williams was a woman afraid to confront her past, but she has the ability to overcome that in her writing. As she states in the prologue, “I have been in retreat. This story is my return.” Although I was not the writer, as a reader and the fellow daughter of a mother striken with breast cancer, I too shared the same emotions. Fear and anger had shielded me from my true feelings for too many years; as Tempest Williams’ words gave me the inspiration I needed to confront my own ongoing retreat from reality.
No, I can not erase the fact that my mother had breast cancer. Nor can I ignore the concern I have for my sister and myself down the road. However I am beginning to understand that I do not have to keep those feelings inside. Despite the pain and association I felt my mother would have in reading Refuge, I highly recommended that she do so, as the impact it had was so profound.

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