Reflections from Hope Cottage | An Excerpt from Lungs of My Earth by William Henry Searle
Our first offering of 2015 is Lungs of My Earth by William Henry Searle. In the words of Sir Andrew Motion (UK Poet Laureate, 1999-2009, President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England) “Lungs of My Earth evokes particular places dear to the author, sweeping them into our imaginations with a rush of delighted language to create ‘a luminous map of the sacred’. Part field-work and part sky-dreaming, it is at once exact and exultant—a vibrant song to the earth and echo chamber of the earth’s own singing.”
Low-light lit boughs of Studley Wood. Cold golden air. A treecreeper flurried up an ash trunk, soundlessly merging into ivy. I breathed in fistfuls of dead leaves, again, again, and again. It was as though in that bouquet of last year’s autumn leaves I inhaled the sweet and damp aroma of every forest and wood on earth.
In the entangled woodland of time there are hollows, clearings, as natural as the woodland itself, continuous with it. One comes across them, steps into them unexpectedly. If I knew how to find them, read the map of the wood, of time, more thoroughly, read between the lines of leaves and branches as it were, then I would be led into more of those clearings, those breathing places of the Spirit, a lit spot of eternity amidst what grows and fades. In one of those clearings, Hope Cottage was built. My roof is a tile-work of clouds, leaves, and stars. Do we not all need time to relax our grip upon the world in order to sink back into the arms of where we are?
—Excerpt from Lungs of My Earth
William Henry Searle, Ph.D., born 1987, in Dorset, UK, is a spiritual ecologist whose work draws on the world’s diverse spiritual traditions, philosophy, ecology, and personal lived experience in the outdoors to revive the sense of the natural world as inherently wild and sacred. He holds a doctorate in creative writing and environmental philosophy for which he was awarded a three year studentship to study at the Royal Holloway University of London. Lungs of My Earth is his first book.