From a Nature Lover’s Broken Heart

What an amazing sight--the sun coming over the ridge seemed to focus all its illuminating energy on a single dogwood.

What an amazing sight–the sun coming over the ridge seemed to focus all its illuminating energy on a single dogwood.


 This morning my daily exercise routine was punctuated by a surge of joy.  

     Looking out the window, I noticed a handful of dried leaves suddenly fly off a little red maple, swirl rapidly around each other, then quickly disperse.

     Moments like this one gladden and feed my heart.  But these nature delights, for me, have their shadow side as well.

     Never far removed from my great pleasure in nature is grief.  How quickly my joyous heart becomes my broken heart.  I grieve that the natural beauty I see from every window of my home is far less healthy than it once was;  I grieve for the many species silently disappearing all around me;  I grieve that we are not acting nearly fast enough to prevent climate change from making my little granddaughters’ future very difficult.

     For me it can be a challenge to let myself feel all of this, both the great joy and the great grief.  But as the poet Stanley Kunitz says, “the heart breaks and breaks, and lives by breaking.”  To be heart-broken is to be truly alive.

      When I think of our efforts to protect the planet, the decades-old saying, “little victories, big defeats” crosses my mind.  We do win victories;  the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act have truly improved the quality of our air and water;  some species, through great effort, have been saved from extinction; and certain pristine lands have been set aside for protection.  

     But meanwhile, we are rapidly losing so much more than we are gaining.  Scientists tell us we are in the Sixth Great Extinction in the earth’s four billion year history.  Species are disappearing at a rate that has been matched only five times before.  Ever.  What’s different this time is that it’ a living creature–namely humans–that are the main cause.  And that’s why scientists have named this period the Anthropocene.  Man has become the main driver of changes in the biosphere.

     And now we are entering a new era, the era of  President Trump.  As frightening and discouraging as it is to hear him vow to scrap the Paris climate accord, to open up all of our public lands to oil and gas drilling, and to undo the federal Clean Power Plan, I am heartened by the determination I see on the part of environmental organizations to work  harder than they ever have to prevent Trump from sacrificing our treasured planet for the short-term greed of the fossil fuel industry. 

     I will continue to let my heart break open to the beauty that surrounds me.  And I will remember the words of Jane Goodall, “there is still a lot left that is worth fighting for.”   We cannot know how successful we will be in saving our planet, but we can never give up on Mother Earth.April Moore 





10 Responses to “From a Nature Lover’s Broken Heart”

  1. Sandi Rose Says:


    Brilliant! Your best ever! You really penetrated my heart and mind.

    With more thanks than I can express.

  2. Todd Waymon Says:

    April dear, Fear not for Mother Earth; she will be here long after we, philosophers and asses, have moved on. Hugs, Todd

  3. Ira Shorr Says:

    I hear you, April. It’s crisis time for our Planet and hence its inhabitants. I’m focusing on Trump and his cabinet being done in by their umpteenth bacon cheese burger.

  4. Priscilla Says:

    Thank you, April, for this sobering, yet beautiful reflection.

  5. Monika Kienzle Says:

    You are giving voice to my worries. So much insecurity at a time when we need to pool our resources to catch up paying attention to clean water and clean air regulations instead of threatening the modest progress we had made! But we must keep hope alive that we will be able find ways to beat the odds. Who would have thought that Pandas could learn to eat biscuits with their eucalyptus leaves?! And as I watch the progress new visitors to our bird feeder are making, I enjoy their ingenuity and rejoice with them for not giving up – even when the squirrel often keeps blocking easy access to the food source.
    We are all in this together!

  6. Anne Nielsen Says:

    Yes, i’ve experienced also both those moments of illumination and joy, and the shadow side that is increasingly permanent. Right now the prolonged droughts and accompanying forest fires that are threatening the national forests all along the Alleghenies and south to Georgia.
    The usual November rains have failed, so far. If we go into winter so dry, I fear it will affect the spring as well. Alarm over things said in the recent election so distracted me, I almost forgot to notice autumn’s passing. A single glance at the super moon’s brilliance. But all of us must find the strength to unite to do whatever we can to stop or stall any move from the new administration that will undermine decades of work in conservation. We owe it to the kids. President Obama is doing what he can–one last executive order to protect the Arctic and Atlantic oceans from drilling.

  7. Gail Says:

    Thanks for the reminder that a broken heart can still sing. Thanks for the reminder that we must cherish moments of beauty and goodness. And thanks for the reminder that we need to keep trying, even harder.

  8. De Says:

    Dear April, You expressed so beautifully where we are and what we are being called to do. It is a moment of great shifting. The ego’s lust for power and the misguided identification with “rugged individualism” have overtaken the spiritual need for connectivity with each other and with Mother Earth herself. We’ve nearly forgotten what it is to experience grief when we collectively disallow the mourners amongst us the space and time to grieve our losses. Thank you for modeling it. When I’m in that dark place, I take some comfort in the words of Leonard Cohen in his song “Anthem”:

    The birds they sang
    At the break of day
    Start again
    I heard them say
    Don’t dwell on what
    Has passed away
    Or what is yet to be
    Yeah the wars they will
    Be fought again
    The holy dove
    She will be caught again
    Bought and sold
    And bought again
    The dove is never free.

    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in… (the rest of thellyrics can be accessed online)

  9. Diane Says:

    Dear April,
    Your image of the swirling leaves is unforgettable. And, yes, isn’t it true that as the heart breaks and breaks, it loves more deeply. Diane

  10. Jean Mann Says:

    That was beautiful. Never give up.

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