Words of Courage, Comfort, and Contemplation

Prairie wildflowers brighten the summer months at Jerry Smith Park, Kansas City, MO

There are small things I can point to as bright spots inside the pandemic. Among these, I’ve discovered the pleasure of podcasts. I know: I’m years behind on this one. I’d never listened to podcasts before March 2020, but being away from the office – and people in general – nudged me into finding new ways to fill quiet moments.

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned the New York Times series 1619, which examines the impact of slavery on U.S. history and society. I also continue to enjoy Matt Kelly’s The Bee Report, which keeps me up-to-date on all kinds of conservation news, bee-related and otherwise.

Most recently, I’ve discovered This Land, a compelling narrative from Crooked Media about the circumstances leading up to the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the territories of five Native American Tribes in Oklahoma. Hosted by Rebecca Nagle, an Oklahoma journalist and citizen of Cherokee Nation, This Land discusses the details of Sharp v. Murphy, as well as the deep history of deception, broken treaties, and land grabs that have left Tribal Nations with a fraction of their ancestral territories. Like 1619, this podcast is a must-listen for all U.S. citizens. You will come away with a greater appreciation of the challenges and abuses Native Americans have faced defending their homelands in the past; and you will learn about the obstacles they continue to face as they fight to maintain territorial sovereignty today.

I have also found inspiring podcasts on diverse topics from two excellent programs: Bioneers and Emergence Magazine. Both of these have a lot to choose from, so I suggest you browse their offerings to find what resonates with you. Here are a couple of my favorite episodes, one from each:

Why the world doesn’t end: Recreation Myths of Nature and Culture with Michael Meade. We live in an end-of-times culture, and now more than ever, many of us are contemplating the meaning of ‘apocalypse.’ In this podcast, mythologist, author and storyteller Michael Meade reflects on the true meaning of apocalypse — as a time of unveiling. From this viewpoint, penetrating the veil is not the end, but the beginning of a new story. The podcast features real story-telling by Mr. Meade; and I don’t know about you, but listening to a true story-teller always gives me a lot of joy.

Courting the wild twin with Martin Shaw. Also a mythologist and storyteller, Martin Shaw works with ancient European fairy tales about the ‘wild twin.’ According the these myths, each of us has a wild twin that we were separated from at birth, a part of us we are forced to repress and banish in order to conform. In a town hall format, Shaw answers questions from listeners and examines the deeper meanings of the wild twin myth in the context of the pandemic. He discusses how rediscovering our wild twin can inform our response to today’s challenges, both in our personal lives and in society at large.

Those are my recommendations, but like I said: Have a look at all the episodes and see what resonates with you. I hope these resources lead you to words of courage, comfort, and contemplation as we continue to struggle under the weight of the pandemic.

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