by Kelli Lundin
I’ve always found my attempts quite taboo in trying to put my experiences into a container—such as words. How can any arrangement of words, especially mine, fully describe feelings, emotions, visions, colors, dreams—or in particular, Life from the perspective of a specific place. My experience at Thacker Pass holds for me the same dilemma. What can be said of such a place to make a difference in the hearts of others? How can I describe with words something so sacred, something so elemental, something so necessary that it merits protection, honor, and reparations from us all?
What comes to mind is this: every place, whether it be Thacker Pass or any other Landscape, deserves sovereignty for its own sake, or rather, IS sovereign. Land, like any other body, is its own, just like mine and yours, the Songbird’s, the Sage Brush, every body of water, every mountain, woodland, valley, and prairie.
I am reminded of what Friedrich Schelling once wrote, “First, and above all, an explanation must do justice to the thing that is to be explained, must not devalue it, interpret it away, belittle it, or garble it, in order to make it easier to understand…” Words, I feel, (or again, at least mine) never fully justify, explain, or have the ability to assign value to what is Sacred. And like Thomas Berry said, “There are no unsacred places; there are only Sacred places and desecrated places.”
Thacker Pass is Sacred. And, I believe what weaves throughout all sacredness, or literally what defines the Sacred, is Relationship. Here in the high landscapes nestled amongst Mountains and Valleys, relationships abound in abundance. These relationships are so intimate—my voice, my thoughts, my very presence feels intrusive. Being in this place, my eyes wide open, I am in awe. My heart relaxes, my mind empties, and I feel at home in a quiet comfort that is rarely afforded to me.
I wander in solitude, and the wild of this place soothes the ache and loneliness I find in the city, the noise and bustle of everyday goings-on. The sound of Ravens, Chukars, Coyotes, Rain, and the explicit emotions of Wind repair and bring back to Life all my senses. The ever-constant numbness that protects me from the underlying and overwhelming grief of all that I know, slowly fades. I feel again, what it is to be alive.
I trail them—Deer, Coyote, the flight of a Sage Grouse, Bobcat, Mouse, even a Mountain Lion and wonder about their lives—what they know, how they feel, the meanings of their songs. I also wonder, “how do the sounds of my song inspire others?”
I have seen the spectrum of desecration swing from dismissiveness, blatant willful ignorance and callousness, all the way to blasting, shredding and annihilating bodies to dust, leaving death forever more in its wake. Lithium Americas wants to obliterate Thacker Pass. It doesn’t matter that they have a reason. It’s not their body. It’s not their Lithium. It belongs to the land. It’s Hers for her own purpose.
Does it take being raped and knowing that experience to empathize with the raping of Land or any body that is being taken from, used, resourced, controlled, exploited, or any other word describing desecration? I don’t know. What I do know is this: rape equals death. Something dies that is never reborn and no amount of grief will ever bring it back.
When will we all see this with our own eyes? ALL of Life is depending on us to open our eyes and hearts to see the Sacred, in us and all around us. Death is one thing, but the end of birth is entirely something else.
For me, it all comes down to one word. Love (verb): to give Life, protect Life, honor Life, to see all Life as Sacred. For every Body.
Thank you Will Falk and Max Wilbert for continuing to offer justice, through your words and actions, that speak to the truth of how I feel and what I know. I’m so proud of you both. You are true humans being. Your courage is remarkable and a clear demonstration of how we all can expand our awareness in knowing every Body as Sacred.