“The indigenous soul lives close to the ground, to moss, river and loon. It moves in springs and wind, is close to the breath of coyotes. It is scratched on rock walls around the planet, is seen dancing around firelight and is heard in stories told under the canopy of stars. The indigenous soul is the thread of our humanness woven inextricably with the world. Where all things meet and exchange the vitality that is life, there is soul.”
This past weekend, in mid-November, thirty Atlatl Boys and thirty Artemis Moon Girls gathered on Wild Earth’s Stonykill land for our autumn overnight. As a parent of one of the Atlatl Boys, I was invited to join in for the boy’s cookout dinner. I arrived just as the sun was making its final farewell for the day – the moon rising slowly and generously in the East.
Walking down the woods road with other arriving parents, I discovered first the fire of the youngest boys (ages 9-10), energetic and excited, the boys prepared beans and rice over their blazing fire.
Another five hundred feet led me to the middle aged boys (ages 10-12), determined in their work, these boys carefully cooked up ground beef on a hot bed of coals.
Quite a distance from there, the oldest boys, (ages 12-13), settled and self-assured, gently stirred their simmering onions and peppers to perfection.
As if orchestrated by some grand conductor chef, the boys –in unison it seemed– began moving toward a central fire pit. Honored representatives from each group carried their large steaming pots with long sticks.
As each group arrived and placed their offerings for the assembly, a few of the older boys began working their bow drill that would soon birth a coal to ignite our large community fire.
Other boys led the singing of a fire song, quietly then louder, as the drilling quickened and the smoke rose as everyone coaxed the baby coal into being. With our community fire ablaze and our stomachs rumbling for food after a long day out on the land, adults and children, reverent and rambunctious, offered our gratitude for all. Then, we served food to one another, we ate together, we laughed together, and we told stories of our day to each other, in contented celebration and make-your-own burrito bliss.
Wild Earth’s simple and profound nature immersion experiences help us remember who we are apart from our Facebook and our frantic schedule, and encourage us to connect with our indigenous self, the self that knows how to sit silently and listen to the language of the birds.
In the woods, we accept the gifts and challenges of the other, as we work together to build the shelter and fire that keeps us dry and warm through the freezing night. On the expansive land, we reconnect with the plants and animals, and the Earth and water – all that keeps us alive.
Thank you to all of the families who choose Wild Earth and nature connection for their children. And, thank you to all of the mentors and leaders who make Wild Earth come alive for our children.
We are truly blessed.
In 2004, David co-founded and, today, is the Executive Director of Wild Earth, where he seeks to help regenerate healthy community culture and create opportunities for people to connect with themselves, each other and the Earth. Prior to founding Wild Earth, David worked as a wealth advisor on Wall Street for twelve years before realizing a life dream – fully sharing in the care and parenting of his three children, and creating a small family farm. Today, the Brownsteins raise dairy cows, goats, chickens, bees and vegetables in season. David also maintains an active counseling practice called Root Connections, where he focuses on helping individuals, couples, groups and business leaders identify and manifest their unique vision. More about David's work.