I’ve taken on a building project this summer. I’m doubling the size of my house––from one room, to two! The first step was to clear an area for the addition. There was a nice little forest there, of small poplars and moose maple. It was shady and cool. My son, who is helping me, pointed out that we needed to remove the roots as well as the trunks of those trees.

I love my woods. I love the trees. It was hard to imagine killing them. I took a chair out there and set it in the middle of the trees with an offering in hand. I sat there a long time. I talked to them. I apologized. I realized it would be important to ask permission before removing them. I asked, and there was no response. With tears in my eyes I said, “I love you.” And then the trees answered. They said that I could take that space to make a home, if it meant that I would live there a long time and commit to be a responsible steward for the rest of the forest around me. A gift with responsibility. I accepted.

The day came and the machines arrived. My young son enjoyed his work of clearing the land and making it smooth and flat. I was pained at every loss, and cried several times, but helped load the limbs and roots to be carried away.

The machines have been gone a few weeks now. There is a big gaping hole in the woods. It is not shady and cool. It is hot and dusty. I put a lawn chair out there, where I had first asked permission, and I sit every day with the space. I notice that I have an even better view now of the grandmother and grandfather trees ringing the opening. I imagine laying in bed or cooking in the kitchen of the addition and looking out at the forest.

The acreage around my home seems more personal now, somehow part of my own body. I have struggled for much of my life to embody my physical manifestation, to live fully in my body. Early trauma and cultural appropriation drove me out of that landscape. Now, in the clearing in my woods, I see how taking something away can make room for something new. I see how clearing one part has increased my awareness of the much more that is still left. And I feel the importance of making a commitment to the physical world––both my own body and my Earth Mother’s body.

Life is good. Life is a gift. Life Force is the energy of both the spiritual and the physical, moving in concert.